ISRAEL

ISRAEL AND THE PEOPLE OF GOD

When the children of Israel left Egypt, a mixed multitude of people came with them (Exodus 12:38) and from the very outset of God’s covenant with Israel, which began at the time of the Exodus (Jeremiah 31:31-32; Hebrews 8:8-9), the descendants of Jacob were commanded to welcome into the covenant, those who chose to serve the God of Israel.

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. ~ Exodus 12:48

Note: Circumcision was the seal of Israel’s covenant with God (Genesis 17:10-14), and it was in the male’s flesh. Keep that in mind moving forward.

When the Covenant was ratified with the second generation of Israelites some forty years later, Gentiles were still living among them. They too were given covenant membership and are included as the people of Israel.

Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water: That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into his oath, which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day: That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. ~ Deuteronomy 29:10-13

Notice that the stranger with them was included in the covenant.

Later, after Israel went to possess the promised land and conquered Jericho, Rahab, who formerly was a prostitute, became an Israelite along with her Gentile family (Joshua 6:25). Rahab became the wife of an Israelite, Salmon, and became an ancestress of King David and Jesus, the Messiah.

Ruth, a Gentile Moabitess also became an Israelite. After the death of her first husband who was an Israelite, she married Boaz, and like Rahab, she also became an ancestress of King David and Jesus.

During the time of Esther, many Gentiles were joined to Israel and became JewsThis is remarkable when we consider how far reaching this was. King Ahasuerus, who took Esther to be his wife, reigned over 127 provinces reaching from India to Ethiopia.

Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:)… And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. ~Esther 1:1; 8:9

The nation of Israel which originated from of the descendants of Abraham, grew into a great nation, and over time, Gentiles were added to them. This, in many ways was a type of the New Testament church which began with Jews and extents to the Gentiles.

In Ephesians 3, Paul tells us that the mystery which was hidden in previous generations was the union of Jews and Gentiles into one body as the people of God.

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel… ~ Ephesians 3:2-6

Now consider the following from the prophet Isaiah: 

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will surely separate me from His people.’ …For thus says the Lord, ‘…the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, everyone who keeps from profaning the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant; even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples. ~ Isaiah 56:3-7

In the New Testament Jesus quotes the latter portion of this verse saying: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” ~ Mark 11:17

God’s hidden plan in raising up the nation of Israel was never to Isolate himself exclusively to one collective group of people, but rather, through that nation his plan was to save the world!  

I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know Me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. The Lord shall count when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah. ~ Psalm 87:4-6

According to Psalm 87, Gentiles from other nations who know God are called God’s people and it is recorded that they were born in Zion!

Throughout the Old Testament, those who joined themselves to Israel to serve Israel’s God, became Israelites with full citizenship.

So shall ye divide this land unto you according to the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord God. ~  Ezekiel 47:21-23

According to Ezekiel 47:21-23 (referenced above), the land of Israel belonged to the Gentiles who became Israelites, just as much as it belonged to the physical descendants of Jacob.

When we come to the New Testament, we find Jesus marveling at the faith of a Gentile centurion, and in response He says to His Jewish followers, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven…”  ~ Matthew 8:10-11

When Jesus was approached by Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, Jesus puzzled Nicodemus with his statement “you must be born again to see the Kingdom of Heaven.” An often overlooked statement by Jesus within this dialog with Nicodemus is found in verse 10, where Jesus says, “Art thou a master in Israel,  and knowest not these things?”

Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, and a master in Israel, about a spiritual truth he should have understood from the scriptures: God’s true people are those who sere him from the heart, and not simply in the flesh.

This was foreshadowed throughout the narrative of Israel’s history as the Gentiles were joined to Israel as the people of God. God’s people, in covenant relationship with Him, are from all nations.

Israel’s history throughout the Old Testament was leading to Christ, and is now fulfilled in Christ! Israel’s destiny as the people of God has been translated from a physical nation in the flesh into a spiritual nation in Christ. That is why the New Testament writers use language which applied to physical Israel in the Old Testament and apply it to the believers in the New Testament. Each has circumcision, a temple, a priesthood, etc.

For example, God told Moses to tell Israel, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” ~Exodus 19:5-6

Now consider the words of the apostle Peter in the New Testament.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light… ~ 1 Peter 2:9

Peter applies to the words of God for the children of Israel to the New Testament believers: Jews and Gentiles, are equally the children of Abraham through faith in Jesus Christ!

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. ~ Galatians 3:26-29

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:13

Jews and Gentiles who trust in Jesus are baptized into the one body as the family of God, and those who reject Jesus are cut off from being God’s people.

For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’ ~ Acts 3:22-23

In Romans 11, Paul describes Israel as the olive tree and the Gentiles as the wild olive tree.  Paul tells us some that of the branches of the olive tree have been broken off because of unbelief. This is consistent with Peter’s declaration in Acts 3:22-23 mentioned above.

The branches who are cut off from covenant membership are those of the Jewish nation who reject Jesus the Messiah. The branches that are not broken off is the remnant of believing Jews. Paul also tells us that some of the branches of the wild olive tree (the Gentiles) have been grafted into the olive tree with the remnant.

If the Jews who were cut off from the covenant turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted back into their tree, where believing Jews, and grafted in Gentiles, are united as one body who trust in the Messiah.

Christ’s death was the destination of the story of Israel in the flesh, and the resurrection is Israel’s new beginning! You must be born again to continue on in covenantal relationship with God!

ANCIENT ISRAEL’S COVENANT WITH GOD

In scripture, the Israelites had no covenant with God because of their DNA. Israel’s covenant with God was based on physical circumcision and the Law of Moses.

When God established his covenant with Abraham, which was to be passed on to his descendants, God said the following to Abraham:

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. ~ Genesis 17:10-14

Notice the following points:

1. Circumcision was the token of the covenant.

2. Circumcision was in the male’s flesh. This is why women did not have the same status as men under the first covenant, and why Paul specifically says, there is no male or female in Christ.

3. Not only were Abraham’s physical descendants circumcised, but those who were not of Abraham’s seed were also to be circumcised because the SEAL of the covenant was not DNA, but circumcision.

The nation of Israel, under the Law, did not consist of physical descendants of Abraham ONLY. This is why the modern day Zionist movement is so scripturally out of line. It promotes the ideology that the nation of Israel in scripture was exclusively the physical descendants of Abraham, thus the covenant predicated on physical DNA continues. This is incorrect and the breeding ground for dual covenant theology.

A Jew is a Jew because of the covenant of circumcision and obedience to the law of God.

Now that Christ has come, it is no longer circumcision in the flesh which is the token of the covenant, but circumcision of the heart. It is no longer the letter of the law given to ancient Israel, but the law of God inscribed on our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies us and leads us into a godly and holy life, lived from a new heart in Christ.

God’s covenant with ancient Israel in the flesh was never predicated on their DNA. It was always predicated on circumcision and the Law given through Moses: every single time!

4. The uncircumcised was cut off from the people of God.

After the first generation of Israelites exited Egypt, God made a covenant with them at Sinai, where he gave them the 10 Commandments. After this generation of Israelites provoked God’s wrath by choosing not to trust him, God swore in his anger that they would not enter the promised land, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb.

God caused them to wonder in the wilderness for 40 years until they died off and their children become adults.

After the 40 years had expired, the second generation of Israelites were given the same Law by Moses, which the first generation had despised.

The book of Deuteronomy records this second giving of the Law in the final days of Moses, at which time Joshua became the successor to Moses.

The context in Deuteronomy most likely occurred over about a week or so period of time, and happened just prior to Israel’s entrance into the promised land under the leadership of Joshua.

Before this new generation of Israelites could go in and possess the land, they had to be circumcised. We read the following in the book of Joshua:

At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way ~ Joshua 5:2-7

The physical circumcision given to Israel was a foreshadowing of that which would come through Christ, namely, circumcision of the heart.

And just as the ancient Israelites could not enter and possess the promised land without first being circumcised, so we too must undergo a spiritual circumcision (a changed heart) so that we may obey God completely and enter the rest he has for us.

REDEEMED FROM THE CURSE OF THE LAW 

The Book of Numbers covers the 40 years of Israel’s miserable existence in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt. God dealt with them harshly at times because they worshipped other gods from their heart and would not trust him to bring them into the land he swore to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Numbers is a book that is almost entirely void of any blessing from God. For forty years God endured the first generation of Israelites in the wilderness so that he could fulfill his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by bringing the second generation of Israelites  into the Land of promise.

After God swore in his wrath that they would not enter his rest, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until that first generation of Israelites had passed.

The book of Deuteronomy covers the last week, or so, of the life of Moses before the second generation of Israelites entered into the Promised Land. Deuteronomy literally means the second giving of the Law, and covers Moses’ instructions for them concerning how they were to live in the land after they took possession of it.

The instructions given by Moses were written in a book that contained the full terms of the Covenant with the blessings and the curses. This book is called the Law of Moses and it was placed in a side compartment of the Ark of the Covenant.

This book of the Law is not to be confused with the Ten Commandments which had been given at Mount Sinai 40 years prior, and kept inside of the Ark, directly under the Mercy Seat.

The book of the Law, aka the Torah, is referred to as the Law of Moses some 23 times throughout the scriptures by the following witnesses:

  • Joshua (Joshua 8:31, 32 and 23:6).
  • Daniel (Daniel 9:11, 13).
  • Luke (Luke 2:22 and 24:44).
  • Paul (Acts 13:39 and 28:23; 1 Corinthians 9:9).
  • The Pharisees (Acts 15:5).
  • The author of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 10:28).
  • The author of the book of 1 Kings (1 Kings 2:3).
  • The author of the book of 2 Kings (2 Kings 14:6 23:25).
  • The author of the book of 2 Chronicles (2 Chronicles 23:18 and 30:16).
  • The author of the book of Ezra (Ezra 3:2 and 7:6).
  • The author of the book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8:1).
  • Jesus and God, I saved the best for last (John 7:23, Malachi 4:4).

The Torah, or Law of Moses, served as a witness against the people of Israel because God knew they were stiff necked and would eventually forsake him and seek after other gods.

And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death? Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against  them. ~ Deuteronomy 31:24-28

This was Israel’s covenant, and it was ratified by the declarations of both the blessingsand the curses after the Israelites entered the Promised Land.

Scripturally speaking, there is no such thing as being under the law without being under its curse as well. That is why Paul warned the Galatians that if they attempted to seek right relationship with God through the Law, they would consequently be under the curse of the law.

In the language of scripture, Christ redeeming us from the curse of the Law, is the equivalent of being delivered from the law, entirely.

The actual terms of the covenant are given in Deuteronomy 27-30, and it is impossible to separate the Law Covenant given to Israel from the curse contained therein.

God promised the descendants of Abraham that he would bless them if they would keep his covenant and obey his voice. Yet God warned the children of Israel that if they did not keep his covenant and obey his voice, he would judge them and send the curse upon them. The curse would result in the Israelites being exiled from the their inheritance in the land, and they would become. servants to other nations.

Israel replied with “Amen” to both the blessings and the curses. Eventually Israel inherited the curse and was judged. This resulted in their becoming servants to other nations.

After the reign of King David and King Solomon, during the reign of Solomon’s son King Rehoboam, Israel was divided into two Kingdoms. The 10 northern tribes became known as Israel, and the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin were known as Judah or the Jews.

The northern tribes were ruled by a series of wicked Kings and eventually they were taken captive by the Assyrians in fulfillment of the curse. Later Judah was carried away by the Babylonians in fulfillment of the same curse.

God had plead with the leaders of Israel and Judah through the prophets but they refused to return to him fully and to do that which is right in his sight. They continued to resist and would not obey His voice. As promised, God’s judgment came and all Israel was exiled into captivity.

During the exile of Judah (the Babylonian captivity) the prophet Daniel began seeking the Lord for understanding regarding the prophecies given to Jeremiah regarding the captivity.

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans; In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of JerusalemAnd I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes… ~ Daniel 9:1-3

As Daniel sought God, he repented for the sins of his people, and acknowledged that the curse spoken of in the law of Moses had been poured out on the nation. 

Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Mosesthe servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed  his words, which he spoke against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth. Therefore hath the LORD watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the LORD our God is righteous in all his works which he doeth: for we obeyed not his voice. ~ Daniel 9:11-14

During this time of prayer and fasting, Daniel discovered by relevelation from the angel Gabriel that the  70 years of exile, had a two-fold meaning.

First, the Jews would serve the full 70 years in Babylon, then the exile would be over and the people could return to their home land. Secondly, there was a decree, not of 70 years but 70 weeks of years which were determined upon the people, and then the true exile would be over.

The first was natural, the second was spiritual, and God told Daniel exactly when it would all occur.

Before the exile of Judah into Babylon, the prophets had prophesied of a return to the promised land. These prophecies came true when many of the Jewish exiles returned after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. When the Jews did return from captivity, they bound themselves with a curse.

“The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples FOR THE SAKE OF THE LAW OF GOD. together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand— all these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations, and decrees of the Lord our Lord.” ~ Nehemiah 10:28-29 

The Israelites, who returned for the Babylonian captivity bound themselves with a curse because they were dedicating themselves again to God and to the covenant God made with their fathers through Moses.

The curse of the Law was the exile, and under the Old Testament, the land of Israel and especially Jerusalem and the Temple represented the presence of God. Being sent into exile or expelled from the land was a physical parallel to a much greater spiritual truth which is banishment from the presence of God because of our sins.

Though there was a return to the land and eventually a rebuilt temple, the presence of God never dwelt in it again, as he had dwelt in the previous ones (the tabernacle of Moses and the Temple of Solomon), for there was no Ark of the Covenant, which was called the Ark of his presence.

Consequently, the kingdom was never the same again.

God had revealed to Daniel that the 70 literal years of exile had a spiritual parallel of 70 “weeks of year” which would bring an end, not to the physical exile, but the spiritual exile. And through the Messiah, God would bring an end to sin (the domination of sin over God’s people).

24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. ~ Daniel 9: 24-27

According to this prophecy there were 70 weeks of years which were determined for the Jewish people: Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city… ~ 9:24

  • weeks, (Hebrew – Shaw-boo-ah, literally sevened)
  • In prophecy, one day equals a year ~ Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34
  • Thus 7 days or 1 week equals 7 years.
  • Seventy weeks equal (7 x 70) 490 years.
  • determined, (cut off or separated). 
  • thy people – the Jews, Israel, God’s covenant nation under the law, the captives.
  • The holy city – ancient Jerusalem, in Israel.

The seventy weeks would began at the time of the the command was given to rebuild Jerusalem:

(1). Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…

The edict of King Cyrus ~ Ezra 1:1-3; Isaiah 44:28

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. ~ Ezra 1:1-3

Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish; That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof: That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. ~ Isaiah 44:24-28 df

The edict of Cyrus was reinforced by the decree of Artaxerxes.

Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time. I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee… And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,~ Ezra 7:12-13, 21

Ironically, the Jewish Talmud, which is a very blasphemous against Christ, espouses hate against the words of Daniel 9:24-27. In the Jewish Talmud, there is a Rabbinic curse pronounced against those who seek to learn the meaning of this text: “May the bones of the hands of the fingers decay and decompose, of him who turns the pages of the book of Daniel, to find the time of Daniel 9:24-27, and may his memory rot from off the face of the earth forever” (Talmudic Law, pg 978, Section 2, Line 28)

(2). Daniel’s prophecy gives the exact time frame of the coming of the Messiah.

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. ~ Luke 3:1, 21. Tiberius reigned from 14 A.D. until 37 A.D. This places the baptism of Jesus around 27-29 A.D. This is consistent with the time frame of commands of the rebuilding of the temple after the captivity.

(3) He shall confirm the covenant for one week (7 years – which is the 70th week).

Some have attempted to insert the anti-Christ into Daniel’s prophecy as the one who confirms the covenant (a supposed 7 year peace treaty between the anti-Christ and modern day Israel). Those who do so have created a “gap theory” between the 69th week and the 70th week.

This is nothing but a theory from men who are insistent in promoting a particular end time theology

The first 69 weeks were consecutive, and if we believe the testimony of the New Testament, we will believe that the 70th week is fulfilled in the four Gospels and the book of Acts. Jesus is the Messiah. He is the one who confirms the covenant for one week.

The covenant mentioned in Daniel which is confirmed, is the covenant by which the transgression is finished, and an end of sins is made, and reconciliation for iniquity is accomplished, and everlasting righteousness is established, and the vision and prophecy regarding Israel and redemption is complete, and the Most Holy ONE, Jesus, is anointed as King!

Jesus is the one who confirms the covenant with Israel in Daniel 9. Not the anti- Christ.  Jesus was sent exclusively to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

During the 3 and half years before his death on the cross, and the three and a half years after his resurrection, the gospel was preached exclusively to the Jews, though some Gentiles did seek to follow him. After the Gospel had been fully preached to the people of Israel, it was sent to the Gentiles.

Daniel declares “He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” Paul says the following in Romans: Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers… ~ Romans 15:8

The writer of Hebrews declares: For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? ~ Hebrews 2:2-4

The miraculous works of Jesus before his death, and the signs and wonders done by the apostles after his resurrection, was the confirmation to the Jewish people of the new covenant the Messiah was establishing. 

It is this same Jesus, who also brought an end to the defunct temple service by bringing judgment on the Temple in Jerusalem. Just as Nebuchadnezzar had been God’s agent to punished the Jews during the time of the Babylonian captivity, So the Romans carried out God’s judgment on the then standing temple in 67-70 A.D.

Christ had both redeemed his people, and brought and end to the overspreading of abominations in the temple!

“…and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

During the time of Jesus’s earthly ministry, the Jewish people were still a people looking for the full restoration from the captivity. They were looking in hopes for the coming of the Messiah. Yet many were looking for the Messiah to bring a visible kingdom and thought of redemption and deliverance in this way (Luke 19:11). For them, the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah meant freedom from Roman domination.

However, the Gospel was came with a jolting shock as the people were called to repentance and warned of the coming judgment upon that which they trusted. God was doing exactly what he had always promised he would do, but in a way many never thought he would do it.

God wasn’t interested in establishing a physical nation, he wanted a spiritual nation: a holy people who would serve him in righteousness and truth, and this cannot be accomplished in the flesh. It must be accomplished by the power of God in the hearts of men, who have been born again and have circumcised hearts.

In Deuteronomy 30, God had told Israel that when they were in exile, he would turn their captivity if they would humble themselves and circumcise their hearts. On the surface this had only a natural application. Yet it had a much deeper spiritual meaning which Paul speaks of in Romans 10.

Paul takes the language of the Torah with regards to the return from exile and applies it to Jesus.

But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. ~ Romans 10:6-9

Paul, drawing on Deuteronomy 30:11-14, translates it from the natural to the spiritual, from the Law, to Christ.

Being exiled from the land and then gathered again into the land was only a foreshadowing of the true redemption which the Messiah would bring. During the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah was understood by many of the Jews to be a “national deliverance” and restoration. Yet, God had much more lofty and wonderful plans for His people.

When Jesus came, his mission was nothing like many were expecting. The fulfillment of the promises spoken by the prophets would not be a “national restoration” of a physical kingdom but a “spiritual restoration” and the creation of a “holy nation” in the Kingdom of God – in Christ.

The Son of God came in the flesh to bring an end to the REAL exile for we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. He died for our sins and was raised again and exalted at the right hand of God. This is the fulfilling of God’s promise that the Messiah would be a descendant of David and would sit upon his throne forever. ~ See Luke 1:32; Acts 2:29:36

Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of David (Matthew 21:9), seated on the throne of David (Acts 2:29-36), having the sure mercies of David (Acts 13:34), and He holds the Key of David (Revelation 3:7). He is the root and offspring of David (Revelation 5:5; 22; 16) and in him all the Messianic promises of deliverance and redemption are fulfilled.

Peter preached to the people of Israel concerning Jesus and said, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” ~ Acts 3:24

The fulfillment of the words of the prophets, even those prophecies concerning the return from exile comes to fruition in and through Jesus Christ.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:13-14

ISRAEL AND THE CROSS

If we fail to understand the cross as it relates to Israel, we will fail to understand Israel in Bible prophecy.

Before the cross, ethnic Israel’s identity as the people of God made them distinct from all other nations, because Israel was covenanted to God through physical circumcision and the Law of Moses. 

Things have changed.

According to Paul, physical circumcision no longer has any value with regards to being in covenant with God, and the system of law with its commandments and regulations under which Israel was to serve God, has been abolished by the death of Christ on the cross.

Writing to the Gentile believers at Ephesus, the apostle Paul says the following:

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. ~ Ephesians 2:10-13 

Notice that Paul tells the Gentiles that they were previously called “uncircumcision” by those who were called “the circumcision in the flesh.” Paul tells them that at that time they were without Christ, and they were aliens from the commonwealth of Israeland they were strangers from the covenants of promise.

Paul then says, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” ~ v.13

The Gentiles who were at one time far off, and aliens from commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, have been brought near to these by the blood of Christ.

The reason things have changed for Israel is because blood of Christ has united Jews and Gentiles in one body, in Christ, as the people of God. There is no longer any distinction between the two in the eyes of God.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

Many who would not dispute that Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ, would still argue that unbelieving Israel holds a distinction as a covenant nation before God. Yet Paul says otherwise. In Romans 10:11-12, Paul says, “there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek” within the context of unbelievers. In Romans 10 Paul holds the unbelieving Jews answerable to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If God had an another alternative for the unbelieving Jew apart from the gospel revealed in the New Testament, there certainly would be difference between the Jew and the Greek. The Jew would then have a special privilege for salvation, not offered to the Gentiles, apart from the gospel. Yet Paul holds Israel accountable to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and gives them no other alternative.

If it were true that Israel maintains a covenantal relationship with God apart for Christ, the gospel would be invalidated, for the New Testament tells us, there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… ~ 1 Timothy 2:5

Apart from Christ, no Jew or Gentile has any covenantal relationship with God! 

Because of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no longer a separating wall, as there once was between Jews and Gentiles. The division has been abolished! 

14 For he is our peace, who hath made both (Jews and Gentiles) one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;

15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

16 And that he might reconcile both (Jews and Gentiles) unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby… ~ Ephesians 2:14-16

I once watched a portion of a video by a well known Zionist minister, claiming that the wall of separation (which is taken away in Christ) will again be erected when Christ returns. Honestly, I don’t think people truly understand how egregious such teachings are in view of the gospel.

In the book of Galatians, we get a glimpse of just how egregious this was to the apostle Paul.

But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulationBut when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? ~ Galatians 2:11-14

According to Paul, Peter and the other Jews with him were not walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel when they separated themselves from the Gentile believers at Antioch.

Paul believed that God has reconciled Jews and Gentiles into one body by the death of Christ on the cross. Thus, removing the distinction which separated the Jews from the Gentiles. In Ephesians 3, Paul refers to this as “the mystery” which was hidden in previous generations.

As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News. Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. this was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Ephesians 3:4-11 TNLT

Notice that Paul says that God’s plan was to display his wisdom by the church – the union on Jews and Gentiles in Christ, and this was his eternal plan! It is through the finished work of Christ that God has accomplished this.

Paul addresses this same truth in the book of Galatians when he says the following:

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. ~ Galatians 6:12

In Galatians, Paul is countering the false teachings of those who were advocating Jewish supremacy rather than glorying in the finished work of Christ.

These religious Jews (aka, Judaizers) did not simply want to bring the Gentiles under some sort of “works righteousness” but rather, they were seeking to make Jewish proselytes of the Gentiles, and this was something that Paul adamantly opposed.

It wasn’t enough to these religious Jews that the Gentiles had believed the gospel and received the Spirit. They were insisting that the Gentiles to go beyond the cross of Christ and become Jewish proselytes through circumcision and adherence to the Law.

It is this “Jewish supremacy” based on the Jew’s religion (Galatians 1:13-14) that Paul is countering so strongly in Galatians.  Jewish supremacy, such as Paul is addressing in Galatians, is in opposition to the truth of the gospel and Jewish supremacy fuels a mishandling of scripture regarding Israel in Bible prophecy.

Again, If we fail to understand the cross as it relates to Israel, we will fail to understand Israel in Bible prophecy. The New Testament is the divinely inspired commentary regarding Israel’s prophetic destiny, which comes to fruition in Jesus Christ: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. ~ Romans 10:4

When Paul teaches that we are not under the law, or that Christ has brought an end to the law, or that the law is fulfilled in Christ, he is not addressing “legalism” per say. He is addressing ethnic Israel’s covenant with God.

Because of the cross, there is no longer any privilege for one ethnic group above another in the sight of God. In Galatians 5:11 Paul says, “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision (the mark of Jewish covenantal identity) why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased.

The controversy over of circumcision in the first century church wasn’t about legalistic works. It was about the superiority of Jewish identity. Because of this dispute, the apostle Paul was being persecuted by those who preached circumcision. Paul preached that the cross alone could save, and being circumcised or not being circumcised no longer had relevance with regards to being in covenant with God.

In Romans 3 the apostle Paul asks the question,“What then? are we better than they?“

This is a reference to the Jews in contrast to the Gentiles. Paul goes on to answer this question saying, “No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” Paul puts the Jew and the Gentile on level ground as being “all under sin.”  ~ See Romans 3:9

In Galatians 6 Paul says, For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. ~ Galatians 6:12-16

According to Paul, Jews and Gentiles are united in Christ and become the new creation identified by the cross of Christ, and are said to be the Israel of God!

We must understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ belongs to the long winding history of the story of Israel. The gospel is the proclamation of the redemption and salvation which God promised Israel through the scriptures and the prophets.

Hidden in a mystery was that Israel’s redeemer would also be the Savior of all who trust in him, and those who trust in him from among the Gentiles would be grafted into Israel’s family tree and become partakers of Israel’s New Covenant! 

The physical preservation of a collective, outward, Jewish ethnicity was never the promise of God. A new creation was. This new creation in Christ is revealed in the New Testament as the union of Jews and Gentiles in one body, becoming one family together as the children of God. 

In his conversation with Jesus, Nicodemus was quite surprised when Jesus spoke to him about the necessity of being “born again.” According to Jesus, this was something that Nicodemus, who was a ruler in Israel, should have understood.

Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?  Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? John 3:9-10

Any interpretation of Israel in Bible prophecy, which replaces Christ’s finished work on the Cross for the redemption of Israel, with a so-called unfinished work for ethnic Israel is a “a strong delusion.”

This delusion has made, of an unbelieving Israel, an icon of ‘god-sanctioned’ disregard for Jesus. It fears to name the spirit behind all unbelief, Israeli or otherwise.

And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. ~ 1 John 4:3

THE NEW COVENANT WITH ISRAEL 

Many Christians really do need a fresh reading of the New Testament, especially the gospels and the book of Acts. There is way too much theology that has been taught that does not line up with the narrative given to us from Matthew through Acts.

For instance, the early church was predominately Jewish believers. The national Jews who rejected the gospel were the ones who were primarily responsible for the persecution of the first Christians. They persecuted their Jewish kinsmen who were followers of Jesus because they viewed them as a religious sect, and saw them as a threat to their religious and national status.

The message of the gospel was sent, first, to the house of Israel, and in due time the gospel began to spread all over the world to Gentiles everywhere.

The concept that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is a Gentile entity is contrary to the narrative given in scripture. The church is the Israel of God under the New Covenant, for the New Covenant was given to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-13

This New Covenant with Israel was established by the blood of Jesus, who is the mediator of the New Covenant (Matthew 28:26, Hebrews 12:24), and it is through this covenant that the Gentiles have been grafted into the household of God with the Jews who believe in the Messiah.

For through him (Jesus) we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye (Gentiles) are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God… ~ Ephesians 2:18-19

In reality, the church is born again Israel which has its beginning with 120 Jewish followers of Jesus which continued to grow in numbers, enduring persecution from their kinsmen in the flesh.

When Jesus died and rose again, God’s covenant with Israel in the flesh came to an end, and the New Covenant that God had promised to Israel was inaugurated.

When the Jewish temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., the religious service which pertained to the Old Covenant, though it had already been made ineffective, became completely inoperative. God’s covenant people are no longer identified as a physical nation with natural boundaries, but as a spiritual nation consisting of people from every nationality. This fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham to make him the father of many nations! 

Don’t blame the Gentiles for this. It was the Jewish followers of Jesus who obeyed Jesus’ command and began making disciples of people from other nations.

The followers of Jesus, consisting of Jews and Gentiles in one body are the born again Israel, for they are partakes of the New Covenant which God gave to ISRAEL!

The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.  ~ Hebrews 8:8-13

THE TWO COVENANTS 

In Ephesians 3, Paul tells us the mystery of Christ which was hidden from previous generations was the union of the Jews and Gentiles in one body.

While many are advocating another gospel centered on the modern state of Israel, and building again the separating wall which Christ destroyed, the truth of the gospel declares that God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus is revealed through the one new man in Christ. It is through the church (Jews and Gentiles in Christ) that wisdom of God is revealed.

God is not going to go contrary to the gospel of his Son by reverting back to national secular Israel, and blessing a man made temple with animal sacrifices and all that was associated with Old Covenant Israel after the flesh. That covenant has been made obsolete and God has established a New Covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

Paul describes these two covenants (the old and the new) in his epistle to the Galatians.

22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 

24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children

26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise.

29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now.

30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.  

31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. ~ Galatians 4:22-31.

 

ISRAEL AND THE GOSPEL 

The ideology of Christian Zionism goes beyond the gospel of Jesus Christ to cater to unbelieving Jews. It literally gives the Jew who refuses the gospel of Jesus Christ another alternative. Someone once said to me “God will use the Law to reveal himself to them once again, otherwise, they will never hear…”

Yet, the Bible says otherwise. Notice the words of Paul In Romans 10:

1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

4 For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.

5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the Law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them. ~ Romans 10:1-5

Notice that Paul, in the context of his heart’s desire and prayer to God regarding Israel’s salvation, declares that Christ is the end of the Law. He says concerning unbelieving Israelites, who are seeking their own righteousness through the law, “they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.”

Remember the context here is Paul’s heart’s desire and prayer for Israel’s salvation.

Paul continues:

6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)

7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)

8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach… ~ Romans 10:6-8

In verses 6-8 Paul quotes from Deuteronomy and applies those scriptures to Jesus. The context of the Deuteronomy is Israel being gathered back to their inheritance after being in captivity. Interestingly, Paul does not apply it to the land of Israel, but to Christ instead.

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. ~ Romans 10:9-12

Notice that Paul says, “there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek.” He says this with regards to non believers. If God has an alternative for the Jew apart from the gospel revealed in the New Testament, there certainly would be difference between the Jew and the Greek. The Jew would then have a special privilege for salvation apart from the gospel. Yet Paul holds them accountable to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and gives them no other alternative.

13 For whosoever (Jew or Greek) shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? ~ Romans 10:13-16 

Paul again quotes from the Old Testament, this time from Isaiah in reference to the gospel. He says, “they have not all obeyed the gospel.” This is a specific reference to the Jews who have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God in Christ.

Though a remnant of Jews have believed the gospel, ethnic Israel as a whole has not, and God holds the rest of ethnic Israel to the same standard by which he has saved the remnant of believing Jews. If they do not believe the gospel, they, like the rest of the world who rejects Christ, will perish.

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. ~ Romans 10:17-18 

Paul tells us that the gospel is “their sound” and “their words.” Moses testified of the gospel in their Law, and their prophets testified of the gospel as well. Throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit of the Lord was giving witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ through those whom he sent to them.

God gave to Israel Moses, the prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, the apostles, and the salvation of the Gentiles.

19 But I say, did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

21 But to Israel He saith,  All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. ~ Romans 10:19-21

The gospel is their testimony, their witness, their message, and if they reject the gospel there is no other alternative.

ISRAEL WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE TO THE GOSPEL

Jesus was revealed to Israel in the writings of Moses and by the prophets. He was revealed to Israel by John the Baptist. He was revealed to Israel by the things Jesus said and by the works which God did through him. He was revealed to Israel by the witness of his followers and the preaching of the apostles. Lastly, he is revealed to Israel by the mercy that God has bestowed on the Gentiles.

The gospel is freely offered to every Jew. Today is the day of salvation, and any Jew who believes the gospel will be saved. God has no favorites and he will not treat those Jews who reject the gospel of His Son, with any preferential treatment. There is no other alternative for the Jew apart from the gospel. Those who reject Jesus Christ will be held accountable for rejecting the gospel!

They will be held accountable to Moses. 

How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. ~ John 5:44-46

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. ~ Acts 3:22-23

This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. ~ Acts 7:37

They will be held accountable to the message of the prophets.

But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. ~ Acts 3:18-26

To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.~ Acts 10:43

Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. ~ Acts 13:40-41

They will be held accountable to the ministry of John the Baptist.

This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. ~ John 1:30-34 

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. ~ Matthew 3:8-10

They will be held accountable by the words and works of Jesus. 

He that rejects Me, and receives not my words, hath one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. ~ John 12:48

Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. ~ John 10: 36-38 

They will be held accountable by the testimony of the apostles. 

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all): that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. ~ Acts 10:34-43

They will be held accountable by the salvation of the Gentiles.

As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. ~ Romans 9:25-33

But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. ~ Romans 10:18-21

I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. ~ Romans 11:11

LORD, WHO HATH BELIEVED OUR REPORT?

The scriptures tells us that the gospel is to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The words, to the Jew first, is not a reference to importance but rather of sequence, as Paul declares in Acts 13: “It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you…” ~ Acts 13:46

In Acts 28 we read the following:

23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.

25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers,

26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and ; their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.  ~ Acts 28:23-28

Paul is quoting from Isaiah 6:9-10, a passage which Jesus also quoted as the reason why he spoke in parables.

13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:

15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Matthew 13:13-15

In John 9:35-41 Jesus heard that the man born blind, whom he had healed, had been cast out of the synagogue by the religious leaders.

When Jesus found him he said unto him: “Dost thou believe on the Son of God”? The man answered and said, “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him”? Then Jesus said unto him, “You have both seen him, and it is He that talks with you.” The man then said: “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Jesus.

Then Jesus said, For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

Some of the Pharisees which heard these words asked, “Are we blind also?”

Jesus then said to them, “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, ‘we see;’ therefore your sin remaineth.

Notice, in this text above, Jesus says, for judgment, I have come into the world and specifically that judgment includes blinding those who claim to see yet cling to their sin.

John tells us the following in chapter 12:

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 

38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,

40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. ~ John 12:37-41

Through Jesus, God blinded them, hardening them in their disobedience by their refusal to believe in the Son of God. This fulfilled the words of Isaiah and Paul quotes this also in Romans 10 showing how they rejected the gospel which God set before them.

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

19 But I say, did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.

20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.

21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

The Gospel is their own message: their words and their sound, as Paul says above in Romans 10, but they were disobedient and rejected it.

It is through this gospel that Israel – not the remnant – but, the rest, as Paul says in Romans 11, were hardened. They only way they will be saved is if they no longer abide in unbelief and obey the gospel.

In Acts 3:24 Peter told them: Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 

In Acts 13:40 – 41, Paul preached to the Jews and said: Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

Jesus is the stone which the builders rejected, as foretold in their scripture. He is a rock of offence and a stone of stumbling to those who are disobedient to God’s Word of God.

Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be DISOBEDIENT, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

8 And stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 1 Peter 2:6-8

The Gospel is not only salvation to the obedient and believing, it is judgment to the disobedient and unbelieving.

THE EVANGELIZATION OF THE JEWS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. ~ Matthew 4:23

What was the gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus preached to the people of Israel? The people of Israel had the greatest preacher who ever walked among men declare the gospel to them. They did not miss his coming. He preached it to them.

The New Testament’s record of the evangelization of the Jews gives testimony to the truth that the Jews are responsible for their rejection of the gospel and there is no other alternative for the unbelieving Jew.

Jesus not only preached the gospel himself, but also sent his disciples to preach the gospel to their fellow Jews. Jesus told his disciples that those who rejected them would be held accountable.

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. ~ Matthew 10:14-15

In Matthew 11, Jesus rebuked the cities where most of his mighty works were done because they refused to believe the gospel.

Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. ~ Matthew 11:20-24 

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all testify that the gospel was preached to the Jews by John the Baptist, and by Jesus, and by his disciples. The people of Israel were repeatedly warned through the declaration of the gospel of the impending judgment for their unbelief. Jesus’s ministry of evangelism to the Jewish people fills the pages of the four gospels.

  • Jesus was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. ~ Matthew 15:24; Matthew 18:11; Luke 19:10
  • Jesus preached the gospel to the Jewish people. ~ Luke 4:18; Acts 10:36-40
  • Jesus sent his disciples to preach the gospel to the Jewish people. ~ Matthew 10:5-8

After the resurrection of Jesus, the original apostles evangelized the Jews.

  • Jesus commissioned his apostles to preach the gospel beginning at Jerusalem.  ~ Luke 24:46-48
  • On the Day of Pentecost the multitude which heard Peter preach the gospel were Jews. ~ Acts 2:5-6
  • The apostle Peter says, “Ye men of Israel hear these words…” ~ Acts 2:22
  • Peter says, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” ~ Acts 2:36
  • Peter’s preaching after the man was healed in Acts 3 was aimed at “Ye men of Israel…” ~ Acts 3:12
  • Peter testified to the rulers of the people, and elders of Israel about Jesus. ~ Acts 4:8-12
  • Peter preached that Jesus had been exalted at the right hand of God to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. ~ Acts 5:31
  • Peter, as well as the other apostles who walked with Jesus in the flesh, was an apostle to the circumcision: the Jewish people.

The apostle Paul evangelized the Jews.

  • Paul was a chosen vessel for the Lord, to bear the name of Jesus before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. ~ Acts 9:15
  • Paul confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that Jesus truly is the Christ. ~ Acts 9:22
  • Paul and Barnabas were sent forth by the Holy Ghost, and when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. ~ Acts 13:4-5
  • Paul preached Jesus to the men of Israel, and those that fear God (Acts 13:16-41).
  • Paul had a habit of evangelizing the Jews.Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogues of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. ~ Acts 17:1-3
  • Paul disputed in the synagogues of the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. ~ Acts 17:17
  • Paul reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks and testified to the JEWS that Jesus is Christ. ~ Acts 18:5
  • At Ephesus, Paul entered into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. ~ Acts 18:19
  • Paul went to the synagogue and preached boldly for three months, arguing persuasively about the Kingdom of God. But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. So Paul left the synagogue and took the believers with him. Then he held daily discussions at the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for the next two years so that people throughout the province of Asia—both Jews and Greeks—heard the word of the Lord. ~ Acts 19:8-10
  • Paul testified to both the Jews, and to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
  • Paul says, “unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law…that I might by all means save some”. (see 1 Corinthians 9:20-22)

The early church believers evangelize the Jews.

  • Stephen, a deacon, preached and testified of Jesus to the Jews. ~ Acts 7
  • After Stephen was martyred there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria (Acts 8:). They traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. ~ Acts 11:19
  • And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.This man was instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he came, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. ~ Acts 18:24-28

Jews are responsible for believing the gospel.

  • Jesus said to the religious Jews, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” ~ John 8:24
  • For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be cut off from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. ~ Acts 3:22-26
  • Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold ye despisers, and wonder and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. ~ Acts 13:38-41
  • Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. ~ Acts 13: 46
  • For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. ~ Romans 1:16
  • For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. ~ Romans 10:11-13
  • But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

THE BANNER FOR THE REMNANT OF GOD’S PEOPLE

In the book of Acts, before the gospel went to the Gentiles, there were 120 Jews who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost: a Jewish feast day which commemorates the giving of the Law at Sinai.

In Acts 2, there were thousands of Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. In verse 5 we read the following: “…there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.” ~ Acts 2:25

Many of these Jews were residents of other nations because they were the descendants of those Jews who had been scattered when Israel was overthrown by the Assyrians and when Judah taken captive by the Babylonians.

Though there was a return to the land after the Babylonian captivity, those who returned from the exile were only a shell of the great nation that Israel once was, for many Israelites remained scattered throughout the known world. In Acts 2:6-11 we read of the nations from which these Jews (who were gathered in Jerusalem) were now residents.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. ~ Acts 2:6-11

The 120 disciples who were filled with the Holy Ghost were speaking of the wonderful works of God, and they were doing so in the languages of the nations wherein their fellow Jews were residents.

The very first sign given to the Jews after the ascension of Jesus, was the wonderful works of God being spoken to them, not in Hebrew, but in the many languages of the Gentile nations wherein God had scattered their ancestors. 

With this in mind, consider the following form the book of Isaiah:

“…in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign (signal, or banner) of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. ~  Isaiah 11:10 -11

Careful study reveals that the locations mentioned in Isaiah 11 and the locations in Acts 2 coincide with one another.

Acts 2 was the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah 11:10-12 as God began gathering his people, the remnant of Israel, together under one banner: the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Acts 2:22 the apostle Peter addressed these thousands of Jews as, “Ye men of Israel.”

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know… ~ Acts 2:22

Peter goes on to lay the culpability for the death of Jesus to the charge of the house of Israel.

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain… ~ v.23.

Peter then says the following: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. ~ v.24

Though they were responsible for the death of the Messiah, God had raised him up, and in his mercy, God was gathering the remnant of those who would repent and trust in Jesus.

Peter goes on to declare how that through the resurrection of Jesus, God exalted and enthroned Jesus as the King of Israel at the right hand of God.

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. ~ Acts 2:36

The message of the resurrection of Jesus was for all the house of Israel. Jesus is the banner which the Lord God of Israel had raised up to gather the remnant of His people to himself.

In response to Peter’s bold proclamation about Jesus, three thousand souls were added as followers of Jesus. In Acts 2:47, these Jews who believed in Jesus were called “the church.”

At that time “the church” was entirely Jewish and for them, true redemption had nothing to do with being residents in Israel; it had everything to do with belonging to this community who followed Jesus.

Though many believed, others chose to harden their hearts against Christ, and against His followers, and the message of the gospel. Throughout the book of Acts we can see that God was separating His people within Jewry by calling the people of Israel to repentance. Those who obeyed and believed the gospel were consequently added to the church. Those who refused to repent were cut off from being God’s people.

Many, who have embraced dispensational premillennialism, have been taught that Israel is not the church and the church is not Israel. However, what they overlook is how God made a difference between the Jews who believed the gospel and those who did not. God separated the believing Jews unto Himself and called them “the church.” The rest – those who hardened their hearts against Jesus – were cut off as Moses said they would be. See Deut 18:15; Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:37

In the ideology of the dispensational premillennialist, national ethnic Israel in unbelief and rejection to the gospel retains a special covenant status in the sight of God.
This theology has made, of an unbelieving Israel, an icon of ‘god-sanctioned’ disregard for Jesus. It fears to name the spirit behind all unbelief, Israeli or otherwise, “And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” ~ 1 John 4:3

ISRAEL’S SALVATION IS SPIRITUAL, NOT POLITICAL 

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! Psalm 53:6a

I once saw this portion of scripture on a caption on a social media site. In response one commenter wrote the following: “The help will come from God…. seems the President of the US has turned his back on Israel.”

This comment was made during the Obama administration, and is very indicative of the ideology that many Western Christians have embraced regarding Israel. It is an ideology which advocates that salvation for Israel is something that has not yet come. On the contrary, the New Testament reveals that salvation for Israel has indeed already come to Israel.

JOHN THE BAPTIST IN ISRAEL’S HISTORY 

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. ~ Isaiah 40:3

The New Testament reveals that Isaiah the prophet was speaking of John the Baptist in the text above.

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias (Isaiah), saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. ~ Matthew 3:1-3 

Before the birth of John the Baptist, the angel Gabriel had appeared to his father, Zacharias, to inform him that he and his wife, Elisabeth, were going to have a child. Among other things, Gabriel announced the following concerning John the Baptist:

…thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. ~ Luke 1:15-17

Notice that Gabriel says of John’s ministry, “he shall make a people ready for the Lord.” Keep in mind that this is reference to those within Israel, for John the Baptist was sent to the people of Israel, to prepare them for the coming of Jesus.

Gabriel also declared that John would go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah.

This visitation from the angel Gabriel left Zacharias startled and bewildered in unbelief, and resulted in Zacharias being struck dumb (or mute) because of his unbelief until after the birth of John (Luke 1:20). After his birth, when John was eight days old, Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth, brought the young child to be circumcised. ~ Luke 1:59

Some of the people thought that the child should be named Zacharias, after his father, but Elizabeth had told them that his name was to be John. So they enquired of Zacharias what the child’s name would be.

Zacharias then signaled for a writing table, and wrote, “His name is John.” The people were all amazed and  Zacharias’ mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, and praised God. ~  Luke 1:63-64

Next we read the following:

And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, what manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him. ~ v.65-66

Luke then tells us that Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied the following:

68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,

69 And hath raised up an horn of Salvation for us in the house of his servant David;

70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:

71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;

72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;

77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,

78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring on high hath visited us,

79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. ~ Luke 1:68-79

Then, in verse 80, Luke says of John the Baptist: “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel.

John the Baptist was the messenger whom God sent to Israel to prepare them for the salvation He had promised to Israel. The specific reason that John came baptizing was to make the Messiah known to Israel!

This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. ~ John 1:30-31

All the prophets before John had prophesied by the Spirit concerning the coming salvation in Christ. The apostle Peter tells us the prophets inquired and searched diligently, regarding the salvation and grace that was to come through Christ. ~ 1 Peter 1:10

John was the last of all the prophets which would testify of Christ to Israel, and according to Jesus, there was no prophet ever who was greater than John. While the other prophets had the honor of testifying of Christ, only John had the honor of introducing Christ. John came baptizing for this one purpose: to reveal the Messiah to Israel! ~ John 1:29-34

The fulfillment of Bible prophecy concerning the salvation for Israel was never about the Jews being in the land of Israel. It was always about the Jews repenting of their sins and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ: To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins… ~ Luke 1:77

In Luke 2 we read of Simeon, who lived in Jerusalem. He was just and devout man. The Bible says he was waiting for the consolation of Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah. ~ Luke 2:25-26

When he came by the Spirit to the temple at the time o”  the dedication of Jesus by Joseph and Mary, he took Jesus up in his arms, and praised God saying, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.” ~ Luke 2:28-30

We also read of men like Zacchaeus, of whom Jesus said, “This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham”. ~ Luke 19:9 

Consider also the words of the apostle Peter from Acts 10.

The word God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:). That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. ~ Acts 10:38-43

In Acts 13 Paul says, “Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.” ~ Acts 13:26

According to the New Testament gospel, Israel’s salvation is not about the political well being of the modern State of Israel. Instead, it is about redemption from sin and death through Jesus Christ. Rather than holding firm to the Biblical gospel concerning Israel’s salvation, the influence of Zionism as brought about a redefinition of salvation for Israel which is, at its core, political rather than spiritual.

The Psalmist prayed that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion, and it has! His name is Jesus, He is the Savior, and He was preached first to the Jews. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts reveal the gospel of Jesus Christ as the announcement of salvation to the people of Israel.

“Tell ye the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold thy King cometh unto thee…'” ~ Matthew 21:5, John 12:15

THE EKKLESIA 

On the Day of Pentecost the New Testament church was born, yet the concept of the church did not begin on Pentecost. It began with Israel in the Old Testament.  In Acts 7, Stephen referred to Israel in the wilderness asthe church in the wilderness.” ~ Acts 7:38

The Septuagint (LXX) which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament (completed some 200 years before Christ) was a primary source employed by the New Testament writers when quoting from the Old Testament scriptures.

The Greek word Ekklesia which is translated in the New Testament, as church, is used in the Old Testament by the Septuagint to describe the gatherings,  assemblies, and coming together of the people of Israel.

For instance, ekklesia is used to describe the gathering of the people of Israel at the giving of the Law. Consider the following from Deuteronomy 4:10:

“… the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”

The word gather, here in Deuteronomy 4:10 is the verb form of ekklesia. In Deuteronomy 9:10 it is “the day of the assembly.”

And the Lord delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the Lord spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. ~ Deuteronomy 9:10

This “day of the assembly” is “the day of the ekklesia” or the day the church in the wilderness gathered to receive the Law. This is very interesting in view of the events which occurred on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Remember, Pentecost was a commemoration of the giving of the Law.

The giving of the Spirit at Pentecost was the fulfillment of that which was foreshadowed when the Law was given in the Old Testament. It is by the giving of His Holy Spirit that God has inscribed His Law upon the hearts of His people.

The ekklesia is not a new concept. It began with Israel in the Old Testament and continued with born again Israelites in the New Testament. That is why the Jews who continued on in covenant with God through Jesus Christ were called the church, or the ekklesia.

If we know from the scriptures that the New Testament church was born on the Day of Pentecost (a Jewish feast day) and was an entirely Jewish assembly of believers in Jesus Christ, then the church cannot and must not be thought of as a Gentile entity. The church is the true assembly of the people of God, as the writer of Hebrews exhorted his Jewish brethren:

For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church (ekkliesa) of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect… ~ Hebrews 12:18-23

JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD 

It is not uncommon to hear someone refer to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah or to hear someone say, “the Jews rejected their Messiah.”

Jesus certainly is the Messiah of the Jewish people and he came to redeem the people of Israel. Yet the promise of the Messiah wasn’t a promise to redeem the people of Israel only. The promised Messiah who was to bring deliverance to the people of Israel, would bring salvation to the Gentiles well.

A distinctive characteristic of the Messianic promises is that the Messiah would bring the knowledge of salvation to all nations. One such prophecy, quoted from Isaiah by Matthew, says the following:

Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and a smoking flax shall he not quench, till he sends forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust. ~ Matthew 12:18-21

In another place, the prophet Isaiah prophesied the following:

You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. ~ Isaiah 49:6 TNLT

In Romans 15 the apostle Paul, quoting the Old Testament, says the following:

Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.  ~ Romans 15:8-12

The Gentiles becoming the people of God through the Messiah was not an afterthought, but the fulfillment of the promises of God instead.

Paul says in Romans 15 (mentioned above) “Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.” His people is a reference to those who among the Jews receive Christ and trust in him as their Savior.

Throughout the New Testament the predominate thoughts concerning the recognition of Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah) is He is (1) the Son of God, (2) the Son of David, (3) the King of Israel, and (4) the Savior of the world.

All of these truths work together in sync as the family of God is gathered together in Christ Jesus. In Christ, the separating wall which divided the Jewish people from the nations has been removed, for the Messiah is not only Israel’s deliverer but the Savior of the whole world, and now -through the Messiah –  both Jews and Gentiles are united into one family and there is no longer any distinction  between the two in the eyes of God. 

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. ~ Galatians 3:26-29

Gentiles who have faith in Jesus are one with the Jews who believe in Jesus and together they are the seed of Abraham according to the promise.

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. ~ Romans 10:12

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jewor Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. ~ 1 Corinthians 12:13

In closing, Notice the words of Paul from Ephesians 2:10 – 3:6:

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days, you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him, you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles…assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending his grace to you Gentiles. As I briefly wrote earlier, God himself revealed his mysterious plan to me. As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus. ~ Ephesians 2:10 – 3:6

THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID 

At the beginning of Acts 15 there were certain men which came down from Judaea to Antioch and taught the Gentile brethren that if they were not circumcised after the manner of Moses they could not be saved. This did not set well with Paul and Barnabas who vehemently disagreed with them. Therefore the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas along with some local believers to Jerusalem to discuss this issue with the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem.

When they arrived in Jerusalem Barnabas and Paul were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported everything God had done through them among the Gentiles. However, some from a certain sect of the Pharisees protested in opposition to the testimony of Paul and Barnabas; claiming that it was indeed needful to circumcise the Gentiles and command them to keep the Law of Moses. Therefore the apostles and elders decided to meet together to resolve this issue.

During the meeting, Peter stood up and testified saying the following:

Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. ~ Acts 15:7-11

Notice that Peter doesn’t say, “they shall be saved even as we.” Instead Peter says, “we shall be saved even as they.”

In the mind of the first century Jew, covenant relationship with God was dependent on Jewish membership and circumcision and allegiance to the Law of Moses.

However, God had done something so unexpectedly different and entirely new when he sent Peter to Cornelius’ house. He had called out a people from among the Gentiles for his Name and he had done it apart from the Law.

In Acts 15: 7-11 (cited above) Peter recounts his visit to Cornelius’ house (Acts 10). Peter along with the other Jews who accompanied him saw firsthand the salvation of Gentiles as Cornelius and his house were instantly filled with the Holy Spirit in similar fashion as the Jewish followers of Jesus had experienced in Acts 2.

When Peter returned to Jerusalem he was confronted by the Jews for lodging at the home of Gentiles and eating with them.

And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. ~ Acts 11:2-3

Peter then rehearsed to the Jews his experience from the beginning (Acts 11:4- 17). Notice the following from Peter’s explanation to Jews in verses 15-17:

And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? ~ Acts 11:15-17

Then in verse 18, the scripture says:

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

The evidence which convinced Peter and the Jewish believers at Jerusalem that the Gentiles had been accepted as the people of God, was the Holy Spirit. God had given to the Gentiles the same gift had been given to the Jews at Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit had now become the new identity of the people of God replacing the old identity of physical circumcision.

This is the experience which Peter is recalling in Acts 15.

After Peter gave his testimony, Barnabas and Paul testified of the miracles and wonders God had done among the Gentiles by their ministry. After Barnabas and Paul testified, James stood up and said the following:

Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world. ~ Acts 15:14-18

The apostle James makes appeal to a prophecy given by Amos concerning the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David, as the scriptural evidence that God would have a people apart from the Law of Moses.

The tabernacle of David can either be a reference to the tent that David pitched for the ark of the covenant after the ark was recovered, or a reference to the Kingdom under David’s descendant who is to reign forever: the Messiah.  The latter seems to be the most likely as this theme appears multiple times throughout the book of Acts.

In Acts 15:16 -17, the apostle James makes reference to this prophecy specifically and applies it to the Gentiles becoming the people of God apart from the Law.

James goes on to say: Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.

It was therefore determined, based on the testimony of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas; along with James’ interpretation of the scriptures, that the Gentiles were not obligated to come under the yoke of the Law of Moses.

Furthermore, it might be worth mentioning that it was the apostle James, and not Paul, who made the final decision to inform the Gentiles that they were under no obligation to be circumcised and to keep the Law of Moses. James says; “Wherefore my sentence is…” ~ Acts 15:19

Afterwards we read, “then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church…” ~ Acts 15:22

They then sent the following letter to the Gentile believers at Antioch:

Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than the necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. ~ Acts 15:24-29

The council at Jerusalem – the apostles, the elders, and the church – came to the conclusion that if they required the Gentiles to keep the Law of Moses after God had established his name among the Gentiles, they would most certainly be in opposition to the work of God.

The testimony of God had already been established by the gift of the Holy Ghost being given to the Gentiles, and the Jerusalem council decided to agree with God. Therefore they said, “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us.” They were persuaded by the Holy Ghost and agreed!

Once this letter was delivered to the Gentile believers at Antioch, and read, the Bible says: “they rejoiced.”  ~ Acts 15:30-31

NOT ALL JEWS ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD

In scripture, Jesus did not think the religious Jews of His day, those were bent on opposing Him, had any special privilege with God. When they claimed that Abraham was their Father, Jesus said, If you were Abraham’s children, then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.” ~ See John 8:39-41

They responded, “We are not illegitimate children, the only Father we have is God himself.” To which Jesus replied, If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” ~ see John 8

Notice that Jesus told these particular Jews who were actual physical descendants of Abraham, “You belong to your father, the devil.”

Jesus Continues, “And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” ~ John 8:45-47

Abraham’s children are those who are of faith that lead to Christ and who walk in righteousness. The Apostle Paul also rebuked a Jewish sorcerer, calling him “thou child of the devil.”

And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him. And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. ~ Acts 13:6-12

Later in 1 Thessalonians 2 we we the following from the words of the apostle Paul as well:

For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

Notice that Paul is referring to evil within Jewry. He says of these Jews, (1) the churches suffered from them (2) they killed the Lord Jesus (3) they killed the prophets (4) they drove us out (i.e. they opposed Paul’s ministry). Paul says they displease God, they are hostile to the spreading of the Gospel and because of these things they are heaping up their sins to the limit and the wrath of God has come on them at last.

Though there are many respectable Jews, and there are some who trust in Jesus as their Savior, being Jewish doesn’t mean that a person is a child of God. In fact Paul tells us in Romans that not all within Israel are truly Israel in God’s eyes because of their unbelief.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. ~ Romans 9:6-8

It is those who are of faith, who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, who are the children of God.

RIGHTEOUS JEWS AND UNRIGHTEOUS JEWS 

Throughout the scriptures, Israel is referred to as God’s people because of the covenant God made with them through Moses.

The term “My people” doesn’t always mean God’s true people in the sense of being faithful to Him. For example, in Isaiah 1:3 God says, “the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider.”

In the very next verse, God says, “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.” ~ v.4

A few verses later, Isaiah says, “Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” ~ v.9 

When God judged ancient Israel, God said to Jeremiah, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight!” ~ Jeremiah 15:1

God also said to Ezekiel regarding the expulsion the people from the land of Israel, “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God”…”Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.” ~ Ezekiel 14:14,16

The distinction between the rebellious within the nation of Israel and the faithful remnant among them is detailed often throughout the scriptures.

In the Old Testament God did not destroy the nation of Israel completely even though they were often times a very rebellious nation and contrary to God. God remained faithful to them for the remnant’s sake – those who were His true servants within Israel.

I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick; Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the monuments, which eat swine’s flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. Behold, it is written before me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom, Your iniquities, and the iniquities of your fathers together, saith the Lord, which have burned incense upon the mountains, and blasphemed me upon the hills: therefore will I measure their former work into their bosom. Thus saith the Lord, as the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for My servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all. And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. ~ Isaiah 65:1-9

As a nation, they were God’s people because of the Mosaic Covenant, as individuals they were not all His people because they did not all serve Him from the heart. This is a foundation truth and the precedence for Paul’s statement in the New Testament: Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. ~ 2 Timothy 2:19

In ancient Israel there was King Saul and there was his successor, King David. Saul was as much an Israelite as David was, but there was a big difference in the two. Saul did not have a heart to please God, and David was a man after God’s own heart. In the end, God rejected Saul from being King and He chose David and blessed him as the King of Israel.

There are many examples in scripture of both unrighteous Jews who did evil in the sight of God and righteous Jews who did well in the sight of God. There were those who were rejected and judged by God and those who were accepted and pleasing to Him.

In Matthew 13:17 Jesus said to his disciples, “many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

On the other hand, we read in Matthew 23 how Jesus confronted the unrighteous Scribes and Pharisees with declarations of God’s judgment against them.

The Scribes and Pharisees were just as much “Jews in the flesh” as those righteous men whom Jesus referred to in Matthew 13, but there was a difference. Those mentioned in chapter 13 were righteous and those in chapter 23 were unrighteous and God made a distinction between them.

In John 1, Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him and Jesus said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile”! The Amplified Bible says, “Here is an Israelite indeed [a true descendant of Jacob], in whom there is no guile nor deceit nor falsehood nor duplicity” !

Yet in John 8, Jesus said to some Jews opposing Him, “you are of your father the devil” and in John 10 Jesus told some Jews “you are not My sheep” and “you are not of God.”

Those Jews in John 8 and 10 were as much “Jews in the flesh” as Nathanael was, yet they were not praised as “true Jews” as Nathaniel was. Nathaniel was pure in heart and followed Jesus, those Jews in John 8 and 10 had hearts against Jesus.

Jesus made a distinction between Nathanael and them.

Clearly, if we would take into account the Biblical narrative, we would see examples like these over and over again. There were righteous Jews and unrighteous Jews, and God always separated between the two and it was always those who were righteous and whose hearts were after God, who were His true servants, His true people, and the true Israel in His sight.

CIRCUMCISE YOUR HEARTS

The first generation of Israelites which left Egypt, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, all died in the wilderness and never inherited the land because of their unbelief.

On the contrary, Rahab, who was previously a Gentile harlot, lived in the land of Promise as a member of the nation of Israel because she feared God. She married Salmon and became an ancestress of both King David and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s not about DNA, and never has been. It’s about a pure heart towards God.

Ruth, who married Boaz was a Moabite woman (Ruth 1:22; 2:2, 21; 4:5, 10). Yet it was in her heart to serve the God of Israel. She said to Naomi, “thy people shall be my people, and Thy God, My God.” ~ Ruth 1:16

Ruth was a Moabite by physical descent, yet she too became an ancestress of King David and the Lord Jesus Christ because of her desire for God.

On the contrary, we read in Numbers 25 how some Israelite men committed fornication with some unholy Moabite women and became idolatrous of the Moabite’s false gods. These men were judged by God and put to death.

It has always been about the heart with God. It has never been about “race or nationality.” Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. ~ 1 Samuel 16:7

May I encourage you not to miss this truth within the narrative of the story of Israel. It was never about those who were Jews outwardly. It has always been about those who were Jews inwardly; not, those whose flesh had been circumcised, but instead, those whose hearts had been circumcised. ~ Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2; 28-29

JEWS WHO WERE CUT OFF FROM THE COVENANT

From Joshua 5, we read the following:

At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, make thee sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time. And Joshua made him sharp knives, and circumcised the children of Israel at the hill of the foreskins. And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised. For the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the Lord: unto whom the Lord sware that he would not shew them the land, which the Lord sware unto their fathers that he would give us, a land that floweth with milk and honey. And their children, whom he raised up in their stead, them Joshua circumcised: for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them by the way. ~ Joshua 5:2-7

Circumcision was sign or token of the covenant which God had given to Abraham.

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. ~ Genesis 17:10-14

The Israelites would have been unsuccessful in possessing the land under the leadership of Joshua if they had not first been circumcised, for they would have broken God’s covenant and would have been cut off as the people of God.

Israel’s ongoing covenant relationship with God was dependent on physical circumcision, and being uncircumcised was one of many things which would caused the people of Israel to be cut-off from covenant membership.

In God’s covenant with Israel, there where specific things which would cause the children of Israel to lose their covenant status. Failing to be circumcised was one of them. In Joshua 7 we see another example when Achan sinned terribly in the eyes of God and cause the entire camp of Israel to be cursed.

During the overthrow of Jericho (Joshua 6), the Bible tells us, “Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against the children of Israel.” ~ Joshua 7:1

God had commanded Israel not touch the any of the accursed things in Jericho and to consecrate the all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron to the Lord.

And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord. ~ Joshua 6:17-19

Because of Achan’s sin, which defiled the entire camp, Israel failed in their next battle.

And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name? ~ Joshua 7:2-9

Joshua was unaware of Achan’s sin which had defiled the camp of Israel, and in response to his prayer, God said the following:

“…Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the Lord God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. ~ Joshua 10:-13

Notice that God tells Joshua, “I will not be with you anymore, except ye destroy the accursed thing from among you.” Israel was called to be a holy people and being Abraham’s physical descendants did not mean that they were automatically blessed as the people of God.

Joshua did as the Lord commanded.

And Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons, and his daughters, and his oxen, and his asses, and his sheep, and his tent, and all that he had: and they brought them unto the valley of Achor And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones. And they raised over him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of his anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called, The valley of Achor, unto this day. ~ v. 24 -26

Being the descendants of Abraham meant, only, that they had been born into the covenant community, it did not guarantee their blessing. They were required by God to obey His voice or else they would be cut off from the covenant.

Listed below are some example, from scripture, of things which would cause the people of Israel to be cut off from covenant membership.

  • The uncircumcised male. ~ Genesis 17:10-14
  • Eating leavened bread during the 7 days of the feast of unleavened bread. ~ Exodus 12:15, 19
  • Making substitute version of the anointing oil, or putting the anointing oil on a stranger. ~ Exodus 30:31-33
  • Making a substitute version of the sweet incense for themselves. ~ Exodus 30:34-38
  • Defiling the Sabbath. ~ Exodus 31:14
  • Eating the t peace offerings while ceremonially unclean. ~ Leviticus 7:20-21
  • Eating the peace offering on the third day. ~ Leviticus 19:5-8
  • Eating the fat of the offerings. ~ Leviticus 7:25
  • Eating or consumed blood. ~ Leviticus 7:27; 17:10, 14
  • Killing an ox, a lamb, or a goat and inside or outside the camp and not bringing it to the tabernacle as an offering to the Lord. ~ Leviticus 17:1-4
  • Offering burnt offerings somewhere other than the altar in the Tabernacle. ~ Leviticus 17:8-9
  • Being sexually immoral. ~ Leviticus 18:29
  • Sacrificing children to Molech. ~ Leviticus 20:1-3
  • Tolerating others who sacrificed their children to Molech. ~ Leviticus 20:4-5
  • Consulting with mediums (familiar spirits)and wizards. ~ Leviticus 20:6
  • Marrying, and having sex with your sister. ~ Leviticus 20:17

These are just some, but not all, of the offenses recorded in scripture for which a physical descendant of Abraham, under the Law, would be cut off from the covenant. Covenant membership for Old Testament Israel required obedience to God.

TRUE CIRCUMCISION IN THE EYES OF GOD

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision in the flesh made by hands. ~ Ephesians 2:11

  • You were called the uncircumcision by the Jews who are called the circumcision in the flesh.

In Philippians 3 the apostle Paul says, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the  circumcision,which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

  • The concision is a reference to those who boast in physical circumcision in the flesh. However, according to the apostle Paul, those who are in Christ are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. In this we can see the contrast between circumcision in the flesh and circumcision in the spirit.
  • Paul goes on in the following verses (4-14) to disqualify any right he had as a circumcised Jew to boast in his flesh so that his boasting may be found only in Christ Jesus.

In Colossians 2, Paul tells the believers at Colosse that they were “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.”

  • In Ephesians 2, Paul speaks of “the circumcision” a reference to Jews in the flesh, as the circumcision in the flesh made by hands.
  • The physical circumcision of the ethnic Jew was in the flesh and made with human hands. True circumcision comes through faith in Jesus Christ and is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. This is “the circumcision” we receive through faith in Christ as mentioned above.

In Romans 2, Paul says to the ethnic Jew, “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” ~ Romans 2:25

  • Jews in the flesh, who do not follow the law of God which would lead them to Christ, are uncircumcised in the eyes of God.

Paul continues in Romans 2 saying, “Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the Law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?” ~ Romans 2:26

  • Again, the uncircumcision is a reference to the Gentiles who were outside the covenants given to Israel.
  • The righteousness of the Law does not refer to the “works of the Law” but faith as Paul details throughout Romans.
  • Those who obey God though faith are the true circumcision regardless if they are Jews (circumcised in the flesh) or Gentiles (uncircumcised in the flesh).

Paul continues, “And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?” ~ Romans 2:27

  • The true circumcision of the heart is set over against the outward circumcision of the flesh. Heart circumcision knows no ethnicity.

Finally, Paul says, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” ~ Romans 2:28-29

  • The true Jew in the eyes of God is the one who has the circumcised heart. It has nothing to do with ethnicity.

CHRIST, THE ROOT OF OUR FAITH 

I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. ~ Revelation 22:16 

We are living in a time when many are using the word root in an effort to preach another gospel other than the grace of Christ, claiming that Christians need to discover their Jewish roots or their Hebrew rootsYet Christians do not have Jewish roots because Jewish culture is not the root of our faith. Christians have spiritual roots, and Jesus Christ is the root of our spiritual lives through the faith of Abraham.

In Galatians 3, the apostle Paul tells us that God preached the gospel to Abraham when he gave the promise that through Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed.

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. ~  Galatians 3:8 

Paul then tells us that the covenant which God gave to Abraham was confirmed in Christ (v.17), and Christ is the seed to whom the promises were made (v.16). Therefore, Christ is both the root and the heir of the promises God made to Abraham.

God’s promise to Abraham, to make him the father of many nations, is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  

Ethnic Israel is not the root of the Christian faith, neither is Jewish customs, culture, or tradition. Jesus is the root of the Christian faith, and in Jesus the fullness of God is revealed.

Writing to the believers in Colosse, Paul  tells them to be rooted and built up in Jesus Christ ~ Colossians 2:7a. Paul also tells them to mortify the deeds of the flesh because we have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. ~ Colossians 3:5-10

We are renewed after the image of Jesus, for it is Jesus that created our new man!

Paul goes on to tell us that in Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. ~ Colossians 3:11

As Christians we are called to be identified with Christ by living holy and godly lives. Our spiritual roots are found in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ, whether we are Jews or Gentiles.

HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE PROMISE

Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac.

Ishmael was born after the flesh (by human effort) and Isaac was born according to the promise. Ishmael was a descendant of Abraham as was Isaac, but Isaac was the child of promise.

Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob.

Esau was the heir to the blessing (the promise God made to Abraham) because he was Isaac’s first born son. However, Esau did not esteem the blessing and sold his birth right. Jacob esteemed the birth right and desired the blessing. Through a series of events Jacob inherited the blessing.

Esau was a descendant of Abraham as was Jacob, but God loved Jacob and hated Esau because Jacob desired the blessing and Esau despised it.

As it was with Ishmael and Isaac, and Esau and Jacob, so it was with the nation of Israel. Within Israel, there were those who were Abraham’s descendants according to the flesh, but they were not heirs according to the promise, they were not the true children of Abraham.

In John 8 Jesus was opposed by some religious Jews who boasted that they were the children of Abraham. In John 8:36 -39 we read the following:

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

Jesus acknowledges that these Jews were descendants of Abraham, but not truly Abraham’s children. Jesus goes on to tell them that not only were they not Abraham’s children but they were actually the children of the devil even though they were physical descendants of Abraham.

In Romans 9:7-8, the apostle Paul tells us the following:

Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

We can see from these words of Paul that not all in Israel were the children of the promise, and therefore were not considered “the seed of Abraham” in the eyes of God. This is consistent with the words of Jesus in John 8 mentioned above.

Only those who were children of the promise were counted as the seed. Who then are the children of promise? They are those who are the children of Abraham “by faith” and who “by faith” walk in the steps of Abraham’s faith.

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law (ethnic Israel) be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. ~ Romans 4:13-17

The promise which God made to Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations. Abraham believed this promise and Abraham was declared righteous in the sight of God.

According to Galatians 3:8, when God made this promise to Abraham, He preached the gospel to him. In the fullest sense of the word, Abraham believed the gospel when he believed God’s promise to make him the father of many nations and was declared righteous!

Christ is the promised seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16) through whom the blessing promised to Abraham comes to fruition, for it is only in and through Jesus Christ that a person can be justified in the sight of God. Abraham was justified by God because he believed the promise God made in Christ (Galatians 3:17) when God promised to make him the father of many nations through Christ who is the true promised seed of the covenant.

Being an heir to the promise God made to Abraham comes only through faith in Jesus. This does not apply to Gentiles alone, but to Jews and Gentiles alike. Being a descendant of Abraham after the flesh is not the same as being an heir to the promise.

As we have seen, there are those who are Abraham’s seed according to the flesh, and there are those who are Abraham’s seed according to the promise. Only those who are Abraham’s seed according to the promise are the children of God!

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. ~ Galatians 3:26-29

ELECTION ACCORDING TO GRACE 

In Romans 9-11, Paul’s emphasis concerning the salvation of the Jews is that it is a remnant according to the election of grace and not according to race, or ethnic privilege.

Paul actually covers the entire history of the Jewish people in these 3 chapters showing that election according to grace has been God’s plan from the beginning.

In 9:6-13 he begins with the promise given to Abraham and shows how that through the calling of Abraham and his descendants, God’s plan of election according to grace is revealed.

The succession of the promise was from Abraham to Isaac, not Ishmael. It continued from Isaac to Jacob, not Esau. Though they were the physical descendants of Abraham even as Isaac and Jacob were, Ishmael and Esau were not included in the covenant of promise – the election according to grace.

In Isaac and Jacob, God reveals that the election according to grace is based on (1) promise and (2) grace.

For this is the word of promise, at this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son.

10 And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac;

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

Isaac and Jacob represent the promise and that which is born of the Spirit, in contrast to Ishmael and Esau who represent the flesh. Ishmael was born through Abraham’s own effort, and Esau did not esteem the blessing.

It is therefore, a fallacy, to think that all of Abraham’s physical descendants would be heirs to the promise.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. ~ Romans 9:6-8

Paul makes a specific distinction between the Jews. He refers to some as “the children of the flesh” and to the others as “the children of the promise.” Thus echoing what he has previously said in chapter 4: “if they which are of the Law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect…~ Romans 4:14

Those which are of the law, mentioned in 4:13 (above), is a reference to the same Jews of whom Paul refers in chapter 9 as the children of the flesh. Paul says unequivocally, these are not the children of God, and that is why he says: “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.”

God’s true Israel consists of those who are the descendants of Abraham according to the promise, and the promise given to Abraham was that he would be the father of all that believe (Romans 4:11). Therefore it is those who are of faith who are the children of promise.

Even though they are of Israel, not all Jews are Israel according to the promise because of their unbelief. They, like unbelieving Gentiles, stumble over the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Galatians 4:28, Paul speaking to the Gentiles who have faith in Jesus, says; “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise.” In Galatians, Paul is countering the influence of the Judaizers who were attempting to make Jewish converts of the Gentiles by preaching circumcision and the Law.

Paul tells the Galatians: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:13-14

The promise of the Spirit refers to the promise God gave to Abraham.

In Galatians 3:8 Paul says, “…the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall ALL NATIONS be blessed.”

God’s promise to Abraham, which Abraham believed and was justified, was the promise that would bless all nations, and Paul declares that this is also the gospel!

In Romans 4, Paul refers to the promise as Abraham becoming the heir of the worldFor the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. ~ Romans 4:13

Notice that Paul makes a distinction between “the Law” and the “righteousness of faith” with regards to this promise. God’s promise wasn’t to Abraham alone; it was to Abraham and his seed, namely, Christ.

Later in Galatians 3 Paul says: For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all ONE in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. ~ Galatians 3:26-29

I WILL BLESS THOSE WHO BLESS THEE, AND CURSE THOSE WHO CURSE THEE

Genesis 12:1-3 says the following:

  1. Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
  1. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
  1. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The words from verse 3, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee,” are often cited by Christian Zionists as a reference to the modern State of Israel. The end result of this interpretation is unwavering support for the modern State of Israel, and any criticism of Israel is condemned as anti-semitic.

Allow me to challenge you with the following observations.

1. These words were spoken to Abraham and not to Israel, for there was no nation of Israel when God said this to Abraham.

2. In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul applies the words, “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,” to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the nations.

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. ~ Galatians 3:8

According to Paul, the promises made to Abraham are confirmed in Christ! See Galatians 3:16-17

3. If the men of God in the Old Testament, men like Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, had believed that it was wrong to criticize Israel, and hold them accountable to the standard of righteousness which God expected, they would have never been able to speak God’s word of rebuke to the nation of Israel.

4. God’s covenant with Israel was established with a curse which was to come upon them if they did not obey God’s voice and keep his ordinances, statutes, and judgments.

Nehemiah 10:28-29 tells us the Jewish captives, upon returning from Babylon, bound themselves with a curse. Why? It is because they were dedicating themselves to God and to the covenant God made with their fathers through Moses.

The Law of Moses was accompanied with the curse of the law. This was Israel’s binding agreement with God and their right to live in the land of Promise was dependant on keeping this covenant. From the time of the exodus and onward, there is no language – anywhere in scripture – which gives Israel the liberty of live in the land of Promise without being under the requirements to keep the Law of Moses.

5. John the Baptist spoke God’s words and called the people of Israel to repentance. He exhorted them not to trust in their physical descendancy and warned them to flee from the coming wrath of God.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto AbrahamAnd now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. ~ Matthew 3:7-10 

6. Jesus spoke God’s judgment against Jerusalem and the Temple for rejecting the prophets and for rejecting Him as the Messiah, the Son of God.

7. The apostles and the believers in Acts warned the people of Israel of the coming judgment of God on the nation of Israel, and exhorted them to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ.

The concept that we who are believers in Jesus Christ are called to “stand with Israel” in such a way that we turn a blind eye and deaf ear to their sins is contrary to the truth of scripture, and flies in the face of the entire narrative of the Bible.

We are called to judge righteously and stand for the truth. We are called to glorify Jesus Christ in whom all the promises made to Abraham have come to fruition.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. ~ Galatians 3:28-29

PETER’S MESSAGE TO THE EXILES

In the first epistle of Peter there are multiple statements that indicate that Peter’s thought process was quite different than that of modern day Zionism.

To begin with, Peter addresses his brethren as “aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…” (1:1)

For the first century Jew, the diaspora wasn’t over, and yet the gospel proclaimed it was. For Christ had brought an end to the real exile, and now God was calling his people to an inheritance that is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for them ( v. 4).

The land under the law had served as a type of the true spiritual inheritance they would find in Christ.

In chapter one, he says the following in verses 14-19

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot ~ ESV

Now they were members of a new kind of Israel: a royal priesthood, and a holy nation, and chosen generation, called to offer up spiritual sacrifices by Jesus Christ (2:9).

Peter continues by addressing them as “strangers and pilgrims” (2:11), and encourages them to live in a way that honors God among the Gentiles in this world, as they follow Jesus Christ in anticipation of his glorious return.

ISRAEL’S SALVATION AND THE PROMISED LAND

If all Israel being saved means all Jews will be saved, then why is it necessary for them to be in the land of Israel for this to happen? Being in Israel or not being in Israel has nothing to do with being saved. Salvation is by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ through repentance and faith.

If all Israel being saved means all Jews will be saved, then why is it necessary for them to build another temple like the one God destroyed before they are saved? When anyone is saved they become a living stone in God’s true spiritual temple. Salvation is by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ through repentance and faith.

If all Israel being saved means all Jews will be saved, then why is it necessary that they bring back a defunct Levitical priesthood after Christ has been appointed as the Great High Priest, and the only mediator between God and man? Salvation is by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ through repentance and faith.

If all Israel being saved means all Jews will be saved, why is it necessary that they bring back animal sacrifices which cannot take away sins? Jesus has offered one sacrifice for sins forever. Salvation is by believing the gospel of Jesus Christ through repentance and faith.

If all Jews will eventually be saved, they will not have to be in Israel. They will not need a Jewish temple. They will not need a Levitical priesthood or animal sacrifices. They will, however, need to hear the gospel. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Salvation comes by hearing the gospel preached. If there is going to be a time when all Jews are saved, they will have to come to salvation the same way the first century Jews and all other Jews the last 2000 years have been saved, and that is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his letter to the Galatians, the apostle Paul says, I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. ~ Galatians 1:6-9

Those who teach that all Israel will be saved in some other way than by hearing the message of Jesus and believing in him, are preaching another gospel.

IS THE LAND INHERITANCE STILL RELEVANT? 

The land of Canaan is said to be an inheritance for the descendants of Abraham forever. ~ See Genesis 13:15; 17:8

Does this then mean that the promise of the land inheritance has relevance today? If we were to take Genesis 13:15 and Genesis 17:8 at face value without considering the balance of scripture, then we would certainly have to come to a conclusive yes.

Therefore, we need to ask, “does the balance of scripture support our interpretation of the land inheritance?”

To begin, let’s consider the use of the word forever elsewhere in the Old Testament. The same Hebrew word translated as “forever” in Genesis 13:15 is translated as “everlasting” in Genesis 17:8 mentioned above (see also Genesis 48:4; Exodus 32:13).

That’s certainly a good start if we are going to build a case that the land inheritance is still relevant.

However, we immediately have our first hurdle before we ever get out of Genesis 17. In verses 10-14, we read that physical circumcision is an everlasting covenant and that the land inheritance coincides with circumcision. The “uncircumcised” have no share in the covenant through which the land was to be inherited.

This immediately becomes problematic in building a defense for the “land inheritance” having relevance today because in the New Testament the apostle Paul tells us that circumcision in the flesh no longer has any value. According to Paul, it is the circumcision of the heart (in the Spirit) which matters.

As we continue through the scriptures we find that the feast of Passover and unleavened bread are said to be an ordinance forever (Exodus 12:14, 17, 24), and the Sabbath was to be a covenant forever. ~ Exodus 31:16-17

Yet the New Testament tells us that these were only shadows of Christ (Colossians 2:16-17) and that Christ Himself is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7).

The ministry of the Levitical priesthood (Aaron and his descendants) within the tabernacle is said to be a statute forever (Exodus 27:21, Exodus 28:43, Exodus 30:21, Leviticus 24:1-3) and an ordinance forever (Numbers 18:8). The wearing of the priestly garments by the sons of Aaron was also referred to as a perpetual ( forever) statue. The ceremonial washing of the hands of the priests who served in the tabernacle was to be a statue forever. ~ Exodus 30:21

Yet according to the New Testament this priesthood has been abolished and has given way to one that is greater and more glorious, and that is the Priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Law of Moses also declares that the Levites were to be servants to the priests and this was to be a statute forever. ~ Numbers 18:23

The law of the portion of meat offering which belonged to the sons of Aaron was also to be a statute forever. ~ Leviticus 6:14-19

The daily meat offerings offered by Aaron and his descendants was to be a statute forever. ~ Leviticus 6:20

The commandment for Aaron and his sons not to drink wine nor strong drink in the tabernacle was to be a statute forever. ~ Leviticus 10:9

The heave and wave offerings belonging to the Levitical priests and their families was a statue  forever. ~ Exodus 29:28; Leviticus 10:15: Numbers 18:19

Like the Passover, the Day of Atonement was also to be a statue forever (Leviticus 16:29, 34, Leviticus 23:31). Yet according to the New Testament, those things which were done under the Law on the Day of Atonement served as a foreshadowing of Christ (Hebrews 10:1-4) and have now been taken away because Christ has become the High Priest of a greater and a perfect tabernacle.

With regards to sacrifices for sin, the Law of Moses also says that the sin offering of the red heifer was to be a statute forever. ~ Numbers 19:9-11

Yet Hebrews 9:13-14 says, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

As we can see the use of the language forever as it applied to the Old Testament promises, statues, and ordinances don’t mean “for all eternity” without any change as they originally were.

In studying the scriptures, we should consider the qualifying clause “throughout your generations” and other similar clauses. These should be taken into account when considering those things which were said to be forever.

For instance, Genesis 17 says the covenant of circumcision and the land inheritance is forever in view of the those generations.

In Exodus 12:14 the scripture says; “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. ~ See also verses 17 and 42

The daily offering of the burnt offering was to be throughout your generations (Exodus 29:42). The yearly consecration of the altar of Incense by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement was to be throughout your generations. ~ Leviticus 30:10

These references (above) regarding throughout your generations are just a few examples of the many times this qualifying clause and others similar to it are mentioned in view of the forevers in the Old Testament.

The Old Covenant was a covenant for God’s people in the flesh and was binding throughout your generations, wherein the revelation of Christ was hidden in a mystery (Colossians 1:26).The forevers were types and foreshadowings of Christ.

God has saved us according to his mercy by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3;5) and that which was “in the flesh” has now given way to that which is “in the Spirit.”

The forevers of the physical covenant has given way and been translated to forever in Christ!

The forever ordinances of things like Passover continues, but now it’s in Christ and not in the outward offering of animals. The same holds true for the land inheritance, the Sabbaths and all other forevers of the first covenant. True inheritance and rest are in Christ!

He is our Passover, He is our Sabbath, He is our promised land!


ADDITIONAL NOTES

  1. Israel’s right to the land, according to scripture, was dependent on their covenant relationship with God. Physical Israel has no covenant with God today because of their rejection of Jesus. Only believing Jews (those who believe in Jesus Christ) have a covenant with God. Physical Israel is a secular nation like all other nations. Covenant membership is found only in Jesus Christ. The only way that secular Israel could be considered God’s people is for there to be two covenants and two groups of people as the people of God. Dual Covenant theology is heresy.
  2. Israel’s right to the land was not exclusive to the physical descendants of Jacob. Throughout Israel’s history, Gentiles were joined to them and inherited full rights as citizens which included land inheritance. ~ Esther 8:17, Isaiah 56:3-7, Psalm 87:4-6, Ezekiel 47:21-23
  3. When Israel was given the land it was divided among their tribes, which included Gentiles who had joined them. ~ See the book of Joshua and Ezekiel 47:21-23
  4. The Levites were given no land inheritance.
  5. God never meant for Israeli’s only to have access to the land, Israel was required by God to treat those living among them justly and not to oppress them. ~ Leviticus 19:33-34; Jeremiah 7:5-7; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10; Exodus 22:21-24; Exodus 23:9; Deuteronomy 23: 7-8; Deuteronomy 10:19
  6. Supporting Israel in everything is unscriptural. For example, God was angry with Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, for making an alliance with Ahab, the King of Israel (See 2 Chronicles 18:1 – 19:2). Also the Apostle Paul tells us that the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and continue to hinder the message of the Gospel are under the wrath of God. ~  1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

THE PRO-ISRAEL AGENDA IN PERSPECTIVE TO THE BIBLE

The pro- Israel ministries such as Christians United for Israel (aka CUFI) are generally not going to teach their followers sound Biblical doctrine concerning Israel. On the contrary, they have a political agenda and they use the texts from scripture which help support their agenda.

The problem is, the average Christian who feels endeared to Israel will often think that those with a pro Israel agenda (such as CUFI) are giving them the Bible perspective, when in reality they are not.

For example, you probably will never hear a CUFI leader teach that Jerusalem is no longer the place of worship for God’s people. Especially since pro Israel ministries teach that Jerusalem will be the place of worship when Christ returns.

Yet in the Bible, Jesus says otherwise in his conversation with the woman at the well in John 4.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem, worship the Father….But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. ~ John 4:21, 23

Also those with a Pro- Israel agenda will not tell you that the land promises given to Israel in the Old Testament were conditional. They want you to believe they were unconditional and that is why they only tell you verses which sound as if they are unconditional. Yet when you read and study the Bible you find out they are conditional.

Here are a few Bible facts that many Pro Israel Christians don’t know.

1. If modern Israel truly possessed the Promised Land according to scripture, it would include parts of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Saudi Arabia (Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 11:24). What we recognize as modern Israel is a very small fraction of the land promise inherited in scripture. Under the reign of King Solomon the Kingdom extended from the border of Egypt to the Euphrates as was promised to Abraham. ~ Genesis 15:18; 1 Kings 4:20-21, 24

You would not know this ^ above ^ unless you studied what the scriptures say about the land and took into account that the Old Testament is an unfolding narrative leading to revelation of Jesus Christ.

2. The land of Promise was the inheritance and rest for Israel in contrast to Egypt which was the place of bondage. This is a type and shadow of the inheritance and rest we have in Christ in contrast to the bondage of slavery to sin and death.

3. The strangers among the Israelites who were circumcised and kept the Passover were to be counted among the Israelites as one born in the land (Exodus 12:48). In other words, those who were not Abraham’s physical descendants also became heirs to the land promise through circumcision and obedience to God’s Laws given to Israel.

4. God never promised the land of Canaan to Israel apart from serving him. ~ Exodus 34:8-16; Leviticus 18:24-30; Deuteronomy 19:8-9; 28:1-3, 7, 10, 15-16, 25, 63-64; Joshua 23:11-16; Jeremiah 7:4

5. God drove out the previous inhabitants of the land because of their sins and wickedness. ~ Deuteronomy 18:12

6. God also promised to drive Israel out of the land if they did not keep His ordinances, statues, and judgments. ~ Exodus 34:8-16; Leviticus 18:24-30; Joshua 23:11-16

7. God told Israel they were only strangers and temporary residents in the land. ~ Leviticus 25:23

8. Through Ezekiel, God rebukes those who think they have the right to the land inheritance because they are physical descendants of Abraham only, rather than doing right in God’s sight. ~ Ezekiel 33:23-26

9. God promised to make the land desolate because of the sins of Israel. ~ Ezekiel 33:25-29

10. Within the boundaries of the Promised Land (Genesis 15), was a place known as Mount Seir. God told Moses that he had given this portion of the land not to the children of Israel, but to the children of Esau.

Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the Lord spake unto me: and we compassed Mount Seir many days. And the Lord spake unto me, saying, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward. And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession. ~ Deuteronomy 2:1-5

Mount Seir is in the desert area known as the Negev in the southern portion of modern Israel. The ancient town of Beersheba is also in the Negev.

If you are a follower of a Pro Israel ministry or organization and you think you have a Biblical perspective of Israel based on what those ministries/organizations are teaching you, my I encourage you to study your Bible.

When you learn what the Bible teaches, across the board, on any biblical truth, it opens your understanding to so many more other truths within scripture.

 

ISRAEL’S LAND INHERITANCE REQUIRED OBEDIENCE TO THE LAW

Recently, I listened to few minutes of a conversation between two pro-Israel advocates as they discussed replacement theology, which is actually a misnomer.

At the beginning of the video, the host minister made a statement about the land of Israel. He commented that there are more than a thousand references regarding the land in the Bible and he made this statement to support his position regarding the modern state of Israel.

He actually offered a proof-text, by the volume, without going into any detail about what those scriptures reveal about the land. His loose and vague handling of scripture was used to promote the idea that the land promises given to Israel were unconditional promises and applying them to modern day Israel.

We must take the time to learn the Biblical narrative regarding Israel and the land of Israel, and not allow anyone to persuade us with their vague proof-texts which often lead to unscriptural ideas about Israel.

Oftentimes the picture is painted that the blessings of God on other nations depends on their support of the modern state of Israel. Yet, in your Bible, God did not judge nations based on their support of Israel or lack thereof. God judged each nation based on their own sin or righteousness. Of course when Israel was right with God, He defended them against those nations that rose up against them. On the other hand, when Israel was in rebellion against God, he allowed other nations to come against them. Israel’s blessings in the land and God’s blessings other nations, through Israel, was always dependent on their being right with God.

Furthermore, the concept that Israel was only blessed with regards to the land is a very faulty concept. Throughout the Old Testament, the wicked within Israel (not the remnant of righteous Jews) committed all sorts of grievances against God within the land. They committed idolatry by worshipping other gods, they sacrificed their children to idols, they committed all sorts’ sexual sins, and the list goes on. Time and time again, God’s anger and wrath was against Israel within the borders of the land of Israel.

In the book of Ezekiel, God had Ezekiel prophesy to the wicked leaders of Israel and say: “Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” ~ Ezekiel 11:1-2, 10

God told them that He would judge them within the borders of Israel.

In verses 11-12 we read the following: “This city shall not be your caldron (an iron pot of protection), neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel: And ye shall know that I am the Lord: for ye have not walked in my statutes neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.” ~Ezekiel 11:11-12

All throughout the Old Testament, there was much bloodshed and death in the land of Israel and many times God’s anger and judgment came on the people within the boundaries of Israel. In fact, Israel wasn’t yet even settled in the land, but in the process of possessing it, when God turned against them because of the sin of Achan.

God told Joshua, Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.”  ~ Joshua 7:11-12

Notice that within Israel’s borders, God said “Israel has been set apart for destruction”and he would not be with them any longer unless they repented.

From the very outset of God’s covenant with Israel, the promise of the land inheritance was always dependent on Israel’s obedience to God’s law. Many scriptures from the Bible could be provided to prove this. Therefore, the land inheritance was never an unconditional promise, but conditional. If it were unconditional, God would have never driven Israel and Judah out of the land into captivity.

Israel’s right to the Land was completely dependent on their obedience to God, otherwise they were not entitled to the land.

THE PROMISED LAND AND GOD’S REST

For if Joshua had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.  ~ Hebrews 4:8

The reference above belongs to the exhortation by the writer of Hebrews concerning the rest promised for the people of God. In chapter 3, he tells us how the people of Israel fell in the wilderness because of unbelief.

God became so angry with the Israelites in the wilderness that he swore in his wrath that that generation would not enter into his rest, i.e., the Promised Land.

The author of Hebrews, writing to Hebrew believers speaks of Israel’s land inheritance as a rest, foreshadowing the true rest which was yet to come.

Notice that he says, “If Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken of another day.”

Israel never entered into God’s rest under Joshua, though they inhabited the land. This is why he mentions “another day” and quotes the words of David from Psalms 95 which was said by David, long after Israel occupied the land.

Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. ~ Hebrews 4:7

Hebrews 4:6-7 in New Living Translation says the following:

God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. ~ Hebrews 4:6-7 TNLT

Writing to Hebrew believers, the writer of Hebrews tells them that there remains a rest to be entered by the people of God. That rest is the finished work of Christ. The author of Hebrews will continue to expound on this truth throughout the epistle as he expounds on Jesus’ Priesthood, sacrifice, and the New Covenant of which Christ is the mediator.

Israel’s inheritance in the land of Canaan wasn’t a permanent rest. Instead, it was only a type and a foreshadowing of something much more significant: the true rest that comes through faith in Jesus.

 

THE MEANING OF “MY LAND”

I read this quote from someone commenting about Israel: ”There is only a small part of the entire planet that the God of Israel refers to as “my land” and that is precisely where the State of Israel is situated.”

On the contrary, here is what the Bible says:

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. ~ Psalm 24:1

Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. ~ Deuteronomy 10:14 

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. ~ Psalm 50:10-12

The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fullness thereof, thou hast founded them. ~ Psalm 89:11

And the list goes on…

Now, with regards to the references in the Old Testament in which God refers to the land of Israel as “My land” (example Joel 3:3) there is a Biblical context.

In the Old Testament, God refers to the land of Israel as “My land” because it was sanctified by God as his dwelling place among men under the first covenant. The people of Israel were God’s covenant people (a nation of Jews with Gentiles who joined them). The land was given to them as their inheritance under that covenant. Jerusalem in Israel was appointed to be the holy city, the Temple in Jerusalem was to be the holy site within the holy city and the place where the God of Israel was worshipped.

This all changed with the announcement of the gospel for God’s people are no longer a physical nation in a small portion of land with a man-made Temple. God’s people are now living in every nation and God’s Spirit lives in their hearts by faith and they are His Temple (individually and corporately).

Abraham, the father of our faith was made the heir of the world (Romans 4:13) and the father of many nations (Genesis 12:3; 17:4; Galatians 3:8-9). Yet, he never inherited the land of Israel for himself (Acts 7:4-5). Neither did his descendants Isaac, and Jacob. Yet Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did live  as travelers in the land of promise.

Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. ~ Hebrews 11:9-10

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob weren’t looking for a physical land, but a heavenly one and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Hebrews 11:14). The land of Israel was the physical inheritance for the physical nation of Israel under a physical covenant that has been replaced by a New and better Covenant.

Jesus is the seed of Abraham through whom the promises made to Abraham have come to fruition. Jesus died and rose again so that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles (the nations of the world) so that all who believe in Jesus Christ may be justified by faith even as their father Abraham was justified by faith. Those who belong to Christ are Abraham’s seed (Galatians 3:29) and have their citizenship in Heaven. (Philippians 3:20)

The message of the Gospel isn’t “go back to the land of Israel.” It is “go into all the World!”

 

ISRAEL, AMERICA, AND THE HOUSE OF GOD

Through the prophet Ezekiel, God called Jerusalem Sodom’s older sister and said that Jerusalem’s sins had surpassed and were more corrupt than Sodom. ~ See Ezekiel 16

In the book of the Revelation, John identified Jerusalem as “spiritually Sodom and Egypt.” ~ Revelation 11:8

In Matthew 10 Jesus sent his disciples throughout the land of Israel to preach the gospel and told them that it would be more tolerable for Sodom in the Day of Judgment than for those cities in Israel which rejected the gospel.

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel… And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it. And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. ~ Matthew 10:5,6,11-15 

Jesus also preached to the cities of Israel and condemned them for not repenting and believing the gospel.

Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. ~ Matthew 11:20-24

I once had a friend say, in defense of his Zionist theology, “God will use the Law to reveal himself to them once again, otherwise, they will never hear” Yet according to Jesus, they should have “heard and repented” at the preaching of the gospel!

In Matthew 11, Jesus refers to Capernaum’s rejection of the gospel as a greater offence than the sins of Sodom.

In Galatians, the apostle Paul refers to the Jerusalem which now is as being in bondagewith her children and speaks of the Jerusalem from above (the heavenly) as being free.

In the Revelation, the apostle John refers to Jerusalem in Israel as “spiritually” Sodom and Egypt.

Under the Old Testament (which was the type and the shadow of the true in Christ) Jerusalem was the beloved City because of the Temple of God was there. After Israel had entered the Promised Land, the Tabernacle was placed in Shiloh. Yet because of the sins of Israel God removed His presence and forsook the Tabernacle.

The Psalmist tells us the following:

“…they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow. For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand. He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.” ~ Psalm 60:56-62

Later, under the leadership of Solomon, the first Temple was build in Jerusalem and God filled it with his glory. However, in due time both the house of Israel and the house of Judah went astray and were taken captive by their enemies.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God reminds those who trusted in lying words regarding the Temple, what He had done to the tabernacle in Shiloh.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the Lord. But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. ~ Jeremiah 7:1-12

In Acts 7, Stephen preached the following to the elders of Israel:

“But Solomon built him an house. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers…” ~ Acts 7:47-52 

When God sent John the Baptist to the people of Israel he proclaimed that the Messiah’s coming was at hand and called the people to repentance. Many came and were baptized by John and confessed their sins. Yet, because of the sway of the corrupt “religious institution” which was controlled by the corrupt “religious leaders” many chose to reject the Messiah.

Only a remnant followed Jesus.

The remnant who followed Jesus preached the gospel first to their fellow Israeli kinsmen and God gave eternal life to all who repented and believed the gospel.

With these Jewish followers of Christ, God began building his true temple and in due time Gentiles were added. This true temple continues to be built today as the “body of Christ” consisting of Jews and Gentiles, and is being built together as an habitation of God through His Holy Spirit. ~ See Ephesians 2:18-22

The true house of God will never again be a physical temple in the physical land of Israel. That house has been made desolate because of their sins, and their rejection of all those whom God sent to them culminating in their rejection of Jesus (Matthew 23:37-39). The kingdom of God was taken from them and given to another which brings forth the fruits thereof. ~ See Matthew 21:43

Yet many continue to promote an eschatology that tolerates evil in Israel for the sake of the rebuilding of an apostate temple that they “think” God still wants.

Modern Israel is nearly worshipped by some even though the state of Israel rejects the gospel of Christ, and does evil in the sight of God, such as Tel Aviv, priding itself as the gay capital of the world.

Any American city which does the same, is condemned by evangelicals. Yet with Israel, it is overlooked because of the pervasive “end time theology” which is apostate to the gospel, namelya third temple with animal sacrifices. 

This is the epitome of  hypocrisy! And it is a “political gospel” rooted in Jewish supremacy rather than the true gospel rooted in Christ.

God’s House, his true temple, is built with living stones of which Christ is the foundation stone. God has no other temple on his agenda for the temple of God is his Holy people who are in Christ!

THE ALIYAH TO ISRAEL 

Aliyah is a word used to describe the immigration of Jews to Israel.

According to the Law of Moses, God promised He would gather the children of Israel back to into their land after He had scattered them, ONLY if they turned their hearts back to Him to obey all His commands. ~ See Deuteronomy 30:1-5; Leviticus 26:40-42

The modern state of Israel, however, was established with armed force and not with repentance towards God and a commitment to obey Him. As a result of the 1948 establishment of modern Israel, there were more than 700,000 Palestinian refugees, some of which were Christians.

Since 1948, Israel has yet to become a nation representing the one true God. On the contrary, modern day Israel is a state whose religious traditions are aligned with the Jewish Talmud (a collection of rabbinical teachings which blasphemes against the Lord Jesus Christ).

In contrast to the establishment of the modern state of Israel, consider the following from the book of Nehemiah chapter 1:

1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

2 That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.

3 And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

5 And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned.

We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king’s cup bearer. ~ Nehemiah 1:1-11

Notice that Nehemiah was humble and repentant, and he cited to God the conditions which God Himself had established that the people were to turn to God, to keep His commandments and to do them.

Later in Nehemiah we read the following:

The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the the law of God together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand— all these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations, and decrees of the Lord our Lord. ~ Nehemiah 10:28-29

These Israelites, who were returning from the Babylonian captivity, bond themselves with a curse because they were dedicating themselves to God and to the covenant God made with their fathers through Moses.

The prophet Jeremiah had foretold of this very thing when he said the following:

10 For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

14 And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive. ~ Jeremiah 29:1-14

Jeremiah’s prophecy is exactly what happened according to the book of Nehemiah, and it happened just as it was required according to the Law of Moses, for the prerequisite for aliyah, according to the Law, is repentance towards God. ~ See Deuteronomy 30, Leviticus 26:40-42; Daniel 9:1-21; Nehemiah 1:1-11; 10:28-29 Jeremiah 29:10-14; Ezra 9:7,15).

So the questions that we must ask in all fairness is this: “Why doesn’t the aliyah of modern Israel look anything like those who returned after the Babylonian captivity?”

There simply is no doctrine or precedence in scripture which supports a Jewish national aliyah to Israel without there first being a turning of the heart towards God!

JERUSALEM AND SHILOH

The prophet Jeremiah warned the inhabitants of Jerusalem not to trust in lying words by thinking that they could avoid the Judgment of God because the temple was there (Jeremiah 7:1-12). He told them to learn from Shiloh (the place God had originally chosen) and recall what He had done to it because of their sins.

But go ye now unto My place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. ~ Jeremiah 7:12

Shiloh was the place where the tabernacle was set up after the children of Israel entered the land of Canaan under the ministry of Joshua. Before the children of Israel crossed the Jordan, God told them the following through Moses.

These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the Lord your God. but unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come…~ Deuteronomy 12:1-5

Israel was to completely destroy every place which was dedicated to other gods. God expressly tells them to destroy these “upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree.” Israel was to be a holy people consecrated to the worship of the One True God, and they were to worship God at the place where he would chose to place His name.

But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the Lord your God giveth you to inherit, and when He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; Then there shall be a place which the Lord your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there;  thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord: And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: but the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee. ~ Deuteronomy 5:10-14

After Israel entered into the promised land, God chose Shiloh as the place where the tabernacle, which bore His name, would be placed.

During the days of the High Priest, Eli, and his two sons Hophni, and Phinehas, who were priests with him, Israel was in a state of apostasy.

1 Samuel 2:13 tells us, the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.

Belial means “lawless, wrecklessness, worthless.”  Literally, it means devil. In Deuteronomy 13, we see the use of this term “Belial” in the following context.

If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. ~ Deuteronomy 13:12-15

Eli’s sons were wicked men like these mentioned in Deuteronomy 13, being sons of Belial. They were so wicked that they stole the portion which belonged to the Lord from the sacrifices which the people brought to the altar. In 1 Samuel 2:12-17 we read the following from the NLT.

Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests. Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting. The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.”So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offering with contempt.  ~ 1 Samuel 2:12-17 TNLT 

The sacrifices which were to be offered to God, according to the law, were sacrifices which were supposed to foreshadow the sacrifice of Jesus. Yet, these wicked priests handled the offerings of the Lord with contempt.

Furthermore, Hophni and Phinehas, were immoral and were seducing women at the tabernacle.

Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle. Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.  ~ 1 Samuel 2:22-25

This was “Shiloh” of which God was warning the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Jeremiah 7. Now consider Jeremiah 7:1-15 in view of Shiloh. We will read from the NLT.

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said,  “Go to the entrance of the Lord’s Temple, and give this message to the people: ‘O Judah, listen to this message from the Lord! Listen to it, all of you who worship here! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says:“‘Even now, if you quit your evil ways, I will let you stay in your own land. But don’t be fooled by those who promise you safety simply because the Lord’s Temple is here. They chant, “The Lord’s Temple is here! The Lord’s Temple is here!” But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever. “‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours,  and then come here and stand before me in My Temple and chant, “We are safe!”— only to go right back to all those evils again?  Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken! “‘Go now to the place at Shiloh where I once put the Tabernacle that bore my name. See what I did there because of all the wickedness of my people, the Israelites.  While you were doing these wicked things, says the Lord, I spoke to you about it repeatedly, but you would not listen. I called out to you, but you refused to answer. So just as I destroyed Shiloh, I will now destroy this Temple that bears My name, this Temple that you trust in for help, this place that I gave to you and your ancestors. and I will send you out of My sight into exile, just as I did your relatives, the people of Israel.’ ~ Jeremiah 7:1-15 TNLT

God’s warning, through Jeremiah, to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem was that they not trust in lying words, thinking that God would not destroy the temple. God was calling them to repentance, but they refused, and would soon be exiled just as God had promised.

Now consider Jeremiah 26:1-9.

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the Lord, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings. And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth. ~ Jeremiah 26:1-9

God kept his word and in the days of King Zedekiah, Jerusalem was besieged and the temple destroyed.

Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. For through the anger of the Lord it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, till he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about. So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the famine was sore in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of the land. Then the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden; (now the Chaldeans were by the city round about:) and they went by the way of the plain. But the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes: he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death. Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, And burned the house of the Lord, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: And all the army of the Chaldeans, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down all the walls of Jerusalem round about. then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive certain of the poor of the people, and the residue of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the multitude. ~ Jeremiah 52:1-15

God’s judgment came because the people would not repent and serve the Lord. Seventy years would pass before the captivity would end, and the remnant would return to rebuild the city and the temple.

When God destroyed the tabernacle in Shiloh, the Ark of God (the Ark of the Covenant) left the tabernacle and never returned to it. In fact when Eli heard that the Ark had been taken by the Philistines, the Bible says, “he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died…” ~ 1 Samuel 4:18

We then read the following.

And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, the glory is departed from Israel: because the Ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, the glory is departed from Israel: for the Ark of God is taken. ~ 1 Samuel 4:19-22

During the reign of King David, the Ark was recovered, but it was not taken to the tabernacle. Instead, It was placed in a tent which David made for it. Later, when Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, the Ark of God was placed there. God had placed His name there and sanctified the temple as His House of worship.

It was this temple, built by Solomon, which was destroyed by the Babylonians during the time of Jeremiah’s prophecy. Though a second temple was built after the Jewish exiles returned from Babylon, the Ark of God never returned to the rebuilt temple.

From the time of the exile until the arrival of John the Baptist, the Ark of God’s presence was not in the temple in Jerusalem.

BEHOLD YOUR KING!

Tell the people of Jerusalem, ‘Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt’ (Matthew 12:5 TNLT).

The entrance by Jesus into Jerusalem on the week of his death is often referred to as his triumphant entry, and rightfully so. According to the gospel narrative, Jesus was in complete control for the Father had entrusted all authority into his hands (John 13:1-4).

The Pharisees had declared; There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” (John 12:19, TNLT)

Jesus, however, did not come as a political or militant conqueror. He came as the meek and gentle Savior. Christ entered Jerusalem as the King of Israel according to the scriptures, and as he was approaching the city, Jesus began to weep.

And when he was come near, HE BEHELD THE CITY, AND WEPT OVER IT, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now THEY ARE HID FROM THINE EYES. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; BECAUSE THOU KNEWEST NOT THE TIME OF THY VISITATION. (Luke 19:41-44)

Jesus looked upon Jerusalem and wept over it because she had missed the time of her visitation and her desolation was near. Jesus then came to the temple, and his presence caused quite a stir among the people and incited the politically and religiously corrupt temple authorities.

WHEN JESUS ENTERED JERUSALEM, THE WHOLE CITY WAS STIRRED AND ASKED, “WHO IS THIS?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”JESUS ENTERED THE TEMPLE COURTS and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “IT IS WRITTEN,” He said to them, “‘MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’BUT YOU ARE MAKING IT A DEN OF ROBBERS.’” The blind and the lame came to him AT THE TEMPLE, AND HE HEALED THEM. But when THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THE TEACHERS OF THE LAW saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” THEY WERE INDIGNANT. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “HAVE YOU NEVER READ, “‘from the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” (Matthew 21:10-16).

These children were praising God and declaring that Jesus is the Son of David. The title, Son of David, is a reference belonging to the Messiah. These children in the temple were praising God because the Messiah was there in their presence! This infuriated the temple authorities.

After this, Jesus left the temple and the city and went to Bethany where he stayed the night. The next morning he returned to the city. As he approached the city, the Bible tells us he was hungry, and saw a fig tree some distance away.

When he came to the fig tree, he found no fruit on it, only leaves. Jesus then said to the fig tree; “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever.” Immediately the fig tree began to withered away.

The cursing of the fig tree, would later serve as a parable to the disciples of the destruction which was soon to come on Jerusalem and the temple because of the wickedness therein. The temple authorities were not seeking God and had turned that which was supposed to have been a house of prayer into a den of thieves.

Jesus cursed the fig tree which had leaves only and no fruit on it, and this coincides with what was going on within the temple, which had a beautiful appearance but no fruit!

Next we read the following:

Jesus ENTERED THE TEMPLE COURTS, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then WHY DIDN’T YOU BELIEVE HIM?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—WE ARE AFRAID OF THE PEOPLE, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. (Matthew 21:23-27)

The chief priests and the elders had no desire to find the truth but only wanted to be in control. Yet, God was taking that control from them and they didn’t even see it coming, because they were blind leaders. On the heels of the question “Who gave you authority?” Jesus then gives them the following parable:

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “truly I tell you, THE TAX COLLECTORS AND PROSTITUTES ARE ENTERING THE KINGDOM OF GOD AHEAD OF YOU. FOR JOHN CAME TO YOU TO SHOW YOU THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:28-32)

Notice that Jesus addresses their question, “who gave you authority?”, by holding them accountable to the preaching of John the Baptist, who was sent to reveal the Messiah to Israel (see John 1:31). Next, Jesus spoke another parable to them.

“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a wine press in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the HARVEST TIME approached, he sent his servants to the tenants TO COLLECT HIS FRUIT.”

Remember, the fig tree Jesus cursed, had NO FRUIT on it. Jesus continues:

“The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘THIS IS THE HEIR. Come, LET’S KILL HIM AND TAKE HIS INHERITANCE.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when THE OWNER OF THE VINEYARD COMES, what will he do to THOSE TENANTS? He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to OTHER TENANTS, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”Jesus said to them, “HAVE YOU NEVER READ IN THE SCRIPTURES: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I tell you that THE KINGDOM OF GOD WILL BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU and given to a people who will produce ITS FRUIT. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” When THE CHIEF PRIEST AND THE PHARISEES heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. THEY LOOKED FOR A WAY TO ARREST HIM, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.”

Christ is the Son to whom the inheritance belongs, and they to whom he was speaking were the evil tenants. Jesus had entered into Jerusalem just days before his death and resurrection. He came as the King of Israel and entered the temple according to the scriptures. The temple authorities opposed him and became indignant at the praise of children praising him as the Messiah. They challenged his authority because they did not repent and believe when his forerunner, John the Baptist, testified of him. They had rejected the counsel of God by refusing to be baptized by John the Baptist (Luke 7:30) and now they were plotting to kill him.

They were the evil tenants in the temple which they had corrupted. They did not recognize the God whom they claimed to represent even when he entered the temple and stood in their midst. Instead, they challenged his authority.

Jesus then left the temple with His disciples. As they were leaving the temple, his disciples began to point out the splendor and the magnificent stones of the temple. Jesus responded by telling them “not one stone will be left upon another.” Afterwards, he told them of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE

I don’t think many, especially those who have been influenced by the teaching of premillennial dispensationism, have made the connection between Jesus’ words concerning the temple in Matthew 24:1-2 and his words in verse 15.

In verses 1&2 we read the following: And Jesus went out, and departed from THE TEMPLE: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of THE TEMPLE. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down.

In verse 15 we read the following:

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, STAND IN THE HOLY PLACE, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)…

Verse 15 has often been interpreted as a reference to the anti-Christ in a third Jewish temple in our yet future. However, there is nothing in the flow of thought to indicate that Jesus is referring to any other temple other than the one he referenced in verses 1-2. If the disciples were attentive to his words, the then standing temple is the one they would have understood to be referred to in verse 15. In verses 1&2, Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple and beginning in verse 15, he describes how the temple will be destroyed.

Jesus says, “when you see it,” referring to those during that generation who would see the destruction of the temple. He did not say, “When THEY see it” referring to another temple at another time.

In describing the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, Jesus says, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree.”  Jesus was referring to the fig tree he had recently cursed which had no fruit on it, echoing that which was fresh in the minds of his disciples. The fruitless fig tree which Jesus had cursed was a parable of the city of Jerusalem and the then standing temple.

The old system was being removed, and the new was coming, and God was the one doing it. By cursing the fig tree, Jesus was also instructing his disciples to look to God and not to any man made temple. Jesus said, “have faith in God!” They did not need the mediation of the temple service, or those who served in the temple, for the Kingdom of God had come in and through Christ.

The night Jesus was betrayed by Judas, he stood trial before Caiaphas the high priest and witnesses were sought after so that they could put Jesus to death, yet they found none. Finally they found two false witnesses who said, “This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.” 

However, Jesus never said such a thing. Instead, Jesus had said, “destroy this temple (a reference to His body) and I will raise it in three days.” (see John 2)

At this false accusation, the high priest arose, and said to Jesus, “Answerest thou nothing? What is it which these witness against thee? ”But Jesus held his peace, and the high priest then said to Him, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” 

In response to this authoritative demand, Jesus says, “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Everyone in the room understood that this was Messianic language, and that Jesus had just declared that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel.

In response to Jesus’ declaration that he indeed is the Messiah, the high priest then tore his priestly garment – an offence which was punishable by death under the Law. In the presence of Jesus, the King of Israel, Caiaphas had nullified his priesthood

At this Point there was only one true high Priest standing in the room, and they did not know him. They did not know that Jesus was both the lamb of God and the high priestwho would offer himself without spot to God.

Jesus was then accused of blasphemy by the one who had just nullified the old priesthood in the presence of the new!

Early the next morning, the Jewish leaders delivered Jesus over into the hands of Pilate, the Roman governor. As Jesus stood before him, Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus responded to Pilate saying, “it is just as you have said.”

Then the chief priests accused Jesus of many things in the presence of Pilate, but Jesus said nothing in response. Pilate then turned to Jesus as said, “Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.”

Jesus remained silent and this astounded Pilate.

Shortly thereafter, Pilate asked the mob who had gathered there that day, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Pilate knew that the chief priests had delivered Jesus over to him because they were envious of Jesus.

Pilate then brings Jesus before the Jews gathered there that morning, and as they beckon for the customary release of the prisoner at Passover (this time it was Barabbas), Pilate asked the people, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?”

The Bible says that he asked the people this because he knew the priests were envious of Jesus. The chief priests then persuaded the people to to ask that Barabbas be released. Pilate then asked the people, “What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?” Then they cried out, “CRUCIFY HIM!”

Jesus had entered Jerusalem as the King of Israel, he had cleansed the temple and pronounced judgment on their leaders who were the fruitless tenants. He had stood trial before the high priest who nullified the old priesthood in his presence, and as he stood trial before a Gentile governor, he was rejected by the Jews who were turned against him by their leaders who vowed their allegiance to Caesar, the worldly King.

Consider the significance of the moment.

And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he (Pilate) saith unto THE JEWS, Behold your King! But they cried out, away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I CRUCIFY YOUR KING? The chief priests answered, WE HAVE NO KING BUT CAESAR. 

Pilate, caught in the middle, had already asked Jesus the question, “are you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:33). Jesus answered Pilate, “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” After another brief question and statement by Pilate, Jesus says, “My kingdom is NOT OF THIS WORLD: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered TO THE JEWS: but now is MY KINGDOM NOT FROM HENCE” (v.36).

JERUSALEM, THE TALE OF TWO CITIES

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. ~ Revelation 11:8

Historical Jerusalem, in Israel,  is the city where Jesus was crucified, and in the text above we have two significant descriptions about Jerusalem. It is called (1) the great city and (2) spiritually, Sodom and Egypt.

This is the true identity of historical Jerusalem in the eyes of God. 

Even so, historical Jerusalem serves within the Biblical history of Israel as a type of the Heavenly Jerusalem.

Historical Jerusalem, where the temple was located,  was the focal point of the religious life of the Jewish people under the Law of Moses. However, in John 4, Jesus made it very clear that the time was then approaching when Jerusalem would no longer be the place where men go to worship God, for God is a Spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. ~ See John 4:19-24.

In Galatians 4, the apostle Paul speaks of historical Jerusalem in contrast to the Heavenly Jerusalem. He identifies historical Jerusalem with the Old Covenant, and the Heavenly Jerusalem with the New Covenant. He tells us, “Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” ~ See Galatians 4:22-26.

When Paul speaks of the heavenly Jerusalem, he cites the prophet Isaiah: “Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.” ~ Isaiah 54:1

According to Paul, Isaiah’s prophecy applies to the Heavenly Jerusalem, and not to historical Jerusalem.

In Galatians 4, Paul likens historical Jerusalem to Hagar, who gave birth to Ishmael, and he likens Jerusalem from above to Sarah through whom God’s promise was fulfilled, saying, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.” ~ v. 28

The Heavenly Jerusalem, is the true holy city of God to which believers in Jesus Christ belong. The author of Hebrews tells us, “…ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels…” ~ Hebrews 12:22

Though historical Jerusalem, and the Heavenly Jerusalem are polar opposites, God established historical Jerusalem as the center of the religious life of the people of Israel  to give a foreshadowing of that which was to come.

In Revelation 21, the title “great city” is applied to New Jerusalem, just as it is applied to historical Jerusalem in Revelation 11.

And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God... ~ Revelation 21:9-10

The holy Jerusalem is the city which scriptures tell us that Abraham sought: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. ~ Hebrews 11:10

Shortly after this, the author of Hebrews tells us that Abraham and his descendants (those who are of faith:)  desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. ~ Hebrews 11:16

In chapter 13, the author of Hebrews says, For here have we no continuing citybut we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. ~ Hebrews 13:14-15

The Heavenly Jerusalem, aka, New Jerusalem, is the continuing city which is to come. Not historical Jerusalem. 

Historical Jerusalem has been put away as an unfaithful and adulterous woman, and God has taken a new bride. New Jerusalem, the heavenly city (full of the followers of Jesus) is the Lamb’s wife, the holy bride.

Consider the description, the great city, as it applies to historical Jerusalem.

In Revelation 17, the apostle John saw a vision of a harlot which made the kings of the earth drunk with her fornication. In verse 18, the heavenly messenger reveals to John that the harlot is the great city.

Remember, Jerusalem is called the great city in Revelation 11:8. If we allow scripture to interpret scripture, the great city (which is the harlot) is historical Jerusalem in the land of Israel.

The description of Jerusalem as a harlot was also referenced by the prophets in the Old Testament. Consider the following from the book of Isaiah: How is the faithful city become an harlot ! It was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. ~ Isaiah 1:21

Also consider Jeremiah’s words from God to Jerusalem: For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot. ~ Jeremiah 2:20

Not only is the great city (Jerusalem) referred to in the book of the Revelation as a harlot, but the great city is also referred to as Babylon.

And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. ~ Revelation 14:8

Notice the description of the fornication of the great city in Revelation 14:18. This is consistent with the fornication of the prostitute in Revelation 17: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. ~ Revelation 17:2.

Also in Revelation 17, the harlot has a name written on her forehead: And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. ~ Revelation 17:5 

This description is consistent with God’s description of historical Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16, in which Jerusalem is repeatedly referred to as a harlot and a whore who committed fornication with other nations. Ezekiel 16 gives a detailed account of Jerusalem’s harlotry and the imagery and descriptions are strikingly similar to the harlot (aka mystery Babylon) which the apostle John saw in Revelation 17.

In Revelation 18, we read the following:

And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, BABYLON THE GREAT is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. ~ Revelation 18:1-3

According to Jesus, Historical Jerusalem was guilty of the blood of the prophets and the righteous men whom God sent to her (Matthew 23:34-39). And this description is also given by the apostle John in the book of the Revelation: And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth. ~ Revelation 18:24

Historical Jerusalem, is now desolate, and no longer the place of the house of God (Matthew 23:39) for she refused to be a city of righteousness.

New Jerusalem (the saints in Christ) is the city of righteousness, and the place where the house of God is.

JESUS AND THE THIRD TEMPLE

The anticipation of a the building of  a third temple in Jerusalem is mounting as many evangelical Christians look to the Middle East, persuaded that such a temple will eventually become the center of a futuristic reign of Christ.

Those who embrace this view may be surprised to learn that God has never requested, or desired a permanent house made with human hands.

In Acts 17, the apostle Paul preaching at Mars Hill, to the men of Athens, said the following:

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with handsNeither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things… ~ Acts 17:24-25

In scripture, the first temple (aka Solomon’s temple) was build as a result of a desire in David’s heart to build God a house.

Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord remaineth under curtains. Then Nathan said unto David, Do all that is in thine heart; for God is with thee. ~ 1 Chronicles 17:1-2

Later, God spoke to Nathan the prophet in response to David’s desire to build God a house. 

And it came to pass the same night, that the word of God came to Nathan, saying, Go and tell David my servant, Thus saith the LordThou shalt not build me an house to dwell in: For I have not dwelt in an house since the day that I brought up Israel unto this day; but have gone from tent to tent, and from one tabernacle to another. Wheresoever I have walked with all Israel, spake I a word to any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to feed my people, saying, Why have ye not built me an house of cedars? Now therefore thus shalt thou say unto my servant David, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I took thee from the sheepcote, even from following the sheep, that thou shouldest be ruler over my people Israel: And I have been with thee whithersoever thou hast walked, and have cut off all thine enemies from before thee, and have made thee a name like the name of the great men that are in the earth. Also I will ordain a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, and they shall dwell in their place, and shall be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness waste them any more, as at the beginning, And since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel. Moreover I will subdue all thine enemies. Furthermore I tell thee that the Lord will build thee an house. And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David. ~ 1 Chronicles 17:3-15

Though Solomon, David’s son, built the first temple, the words of God in the 1 Chronicles 17 were prophetic of another of David’s descendants. The one referred to by God would have an everlasting Kingdom, and it is he who will build a house for God. This is a reference to none other than the Messiah, Jesus. 

Solomon’s kingdom was not a lasting kingdom, and the temple built by Solomon was eventually destroyed because of God’s judgment against the apostasy of the nation. The second temple, renovated by Herod, which was the standing temple during the time of the earthly ministry of Jesus, was also destroyed because of God’s judgment against Israel in 70 A.D.

If Jesus is the one who is going to build the house God desires, what sort of house will he build? How will it coincide with his reign as King, and when will Jesus reign as King?

THE ENTHRONEMENT OF CHRIST

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in the gospel of Luke, he said concerning Jesus, “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.” ~ Luke 1:32

Though some interpret the reign of Christ from the throne of David as a future millennial throne previously occupied by the anti-Christ, the Bible teaches that Jesus is enthroned now at the right hand of God.

According to the authors of the New Testament, the exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God is the fulfillment of God’s promise that he would raise up his Son, the Messiah, to reign upon the throne of David.

In Acts 2, Peter interprets the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God as the fulfillment of the scriptures that the Messiah would reign from the throne of David.

Notice carefully how Peter articulates this:

Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. ~ Acts 2:30-36

In the texts above, Peter is quoting David from Psalm 110 when he says, “the Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.”

FIRST, notice the words “the Lord said to my Lord, sit thou on my right hand…”

Peter quotes this in reference to David, as a prophet, knowing that God would raise up the Messiah to sit on his throne. So as a prophet, foreseeing the enthronement of the Messiah, David said, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit on my right hand.” As a prophet, David foresaw by the Spirit of God that the promise of the Messiah reigning on his throne would not be an earthly enthronement, but a heavenly enthronement, at the right hand of God.

In the gospels, Jesus said: “David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared: “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet”‘ (Mark 12:36, See also Matthew 22:41-45).

SECONDLY, notice the next part of the text that Peter quotes from David: “till I make your enemies your footstool.”

These very same words are employed by the author of Hebrews in describing the enthronement of Jesus at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:13; 10:13) and in 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 the apostle Paul applies them to the exalted Jesus as well.

Also Psalm 110 is the Psalm which testifies that the Messiah would be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (v.4). The author of Hebrews expounds on this and tells us that Jesus, the exalted King at the right hand of God, is also our great high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The historical Melchizedek (Genesis 14) prefigured Christ as a King and Priest, and not a priest only. Under the Law of Moses one could not be a King and a priest.  The priests came only from the tribe of Levi and the Kings were descendants of David from the tribe of Judah.

The writer of Hebrews explains how Jesus, being from the tribe of Judah (the tribe of King David), is qualified to be a priest. He is qualified because His priestly ministry is not earthy (Hebrews 8:4), but heavenly, at the right hand of God where he is nowenthroned. ~ See Hebrews 8:1-3

THIRDLY, Notice that David specifically identifies the Messiah as his Lord: “The Lord said to my Lord…”

In Acts 2 Peter says, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both LORD and Christ” (v.36).

Peter doesn’t tell the people of Israel that Jesus will be Lord when he one day returns. Peter declares that Jesus is Lord and Messiah now, at the right hand of God. The gospel which was preached to house of Israel by the apostles, was not a gospel of a futuristicenthronement of the Messiah, but rather, the declaration of His exaltation now!

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~ Philippians 2:9-11

When he had by himself purged our sins, (He) sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High…  ~ See Hebrews 1:3

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Hebrews 1:8 

I (Paul) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all. ~ Ephesians 1:17-23

Notice that Paul says in Ephesians 1 (above), Christ is already enthroned in Heaven above everything in this world and in the world to come, having all things under His feet.

Jesus enthroned at the right hand of God is not a temporary enthronement as he awaits a lesser throne in Jerusalem, Israel. Rather, Jesus entered into his glory after his resurrection (Luke 24:26; John 17:5, 24; Acts 2:33; 3:13) and was enthroned at the right hand of God, where the New Jerusalem is – the true Holy City of God (Hebrews 12:22-24). From there, Christ will reign forever!

When Christ returns he is not taking a lesser throne, for he has been made Higher than the Heavens, in his exaltation (Hebrews 7:26). Jesus reigns forever, being highly exalted at the right hand of God, and in that Majestic power, authority, and glory; He will come again!

THE TEMPLE OF GOD

If Jesus has already entered into his glory, and exalted as King at the right hand of God, what sort of the temple will he build?

First, allow me to point out that the pervasive ideology which states that Jesus will return to occupy a stone and mortar temple, also states it will be built by unbelieving Jews before his return. Many believe that the anti Christ will at some point occupy this temple.

Yet the Word of God unequivocally states that Jesus, and not the Jews, will build God’s temple. Notice again, God’s words to David through the prophet Nathan:

I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.  I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore. ~ 1 Chronicles 17:11-14

According to the Bible, Jesus is the cornerstone, which God has laid in Zion. He is the foundation stone of the true house of God which is built not by man, but by the Spirit of the Living God. The true house of God is built with living stones. (1 Peter 2:5). These living stones are Jews and Gentiles who obey Jesus Christ and abide in Him.

Nowhere in scripture will you find a “rebuilt – man made – temple” of which the Lord Jesus Christ will return to fill with His Glory. The temple which is filled with his glory is the temple which he is building with those who trust in him.

For through him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the LordIn whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:18-22

The true temple of God of which Jesus is the foundation, and his followers are the building, is out in the open, loud and clear, revealed in the New Testament. ~ See John 2:19-20; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16 -17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12-22; 1 Peter 2:5

All man-made structures in scripture, were only types and shadows of the true temple which is in Christ.

The writer of Hebrews tells us emphatically that we who hold to faith in Jesus are Christ’s house!

For this man (Jesus) was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hathbuilded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken afterBut Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. ~ Hebrews 3:3-6

Stephen testified of this truth in the book of Acts: Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. ~ Acts 7:48-51

Stephen’s declaration comes from the words of God through Isaiah the prophet: Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lordbut to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. ~ Isaiah 66:1-2

Notice, that in contrast to the words of God, “where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” God says, but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

Those to whom God will look are those who have a humble or circumcised heart in the sight of God.  The true temple of God is not built with human hands, but with circumcised hearts, and it is this temple that God himself inhabits by his Spirit.

Under the Law, Jerusalem in Israel was the place of worship, but in John 4:21, Jesus made it clear that the time was then near when those who worship God would no longer worship in a physical temple within Israel, but true worshipers will worship God in the Spirit and in truth.

In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul says, “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”

While some continue to anticipate a Jewish Temple to be rebuilt (a temple that would only cause unsaved Jews to continue in their rejection of the Messiah should it ever be built) the true Temple of God consisting of Jews and Gentiles is being built on the foundation of Jesus Christ, and this is the holy habitation of God through the Spirit.


REASONS WHY ANIMAL SACRIFICES IN THE MILLENNIUM IS PROBLEMATIC
FOR CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE 

There are some who teach that when Christ returns there will also be a return to the offering of animal sacrifices for a thousand years. This assumption is based predominantly on Ezekiel’s temple vision (Ezekiel 40 – 48). Advocates of this theological view interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal future temple from which Christ will reign.

However, there is absolutely nothing in the New Testament to support such claims. In fact, such ideology undermines the finished work of Jesus Christ because the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin and trespass offerings and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also 42:13 and 45:23

Listed below are some objections to this theological view. 

1. A return to animal sacrifices would be apostate.

A return to animal sacrifices after coming to the knowledge of Christ was considered apostate at the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews, and is referred to by the author of Hebrews as dead works, from which we are cleansed by the blood of Christ. ~ Hebrews 9:1-14

Why would God reinstate the very things from which the writer of Hebrews says the blood of Christ has cleansed us?

2. The sacrifices of animals were carnal ordinances administered by a priesthood which has been annulled. ~ Hebrews 7:16-19; 9:10

The author of Hebrews expounds on the ministry of Jesus as High Priest in contrast to the priests who served under the law. He tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests (who serve in the earthly temple) offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood in the Heavenly tabernacle (in the presence of God in the Heavens) and not in an earthly tabernacle or temple with the blood of animal sacrifices.

Jesus has been appointed priest forever and is mediator of an everlasting covenant which was established by his blood.

3. The sacrifice of animals could not open the way into the true holiest of all. 

Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing... ~ Hebrews 9:6-8

4. Animal sacrifices were imposed on the people until the time of reformation (until Christ came and secured our permanent redemption).

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscienceWhich stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. ~ Hebrews 9:9-10

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~Hebrews 7:19

5. Animals sacrifices served only as a shadow of good things which were yet to come and could not take away sins. ~ Hebrews 9:6-9; 10:1-4

The sacrifices under the Law were repeated over and over again and were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with.

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4

Notice that the author of Hebrews tells us that the sacrifices of animals “would not have ceased to be offered” if they could have taken away sins. However, it is not possiblefor the blood of animals to take away sin. 

6. Everything that Ezekiel saw was visionary in view of the pattern given to Moses.  

A careful examination of Ezekiel’s temple vision reveals that his vision was predicated on the instructions given to Moses for building the tabernacle and in accordance with the instructions given in the Law regarding the service therein.

When God gave to Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, God instructed Moses to make all things according to the pattern given to him: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. ~ Hebrews 8:5

The tabernacle made by Moses, was only a type and a shadow of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the service carried out in it was to be done according to the Law.

According to the book of Hebrews, Jesus is the high Priest of the true tabernacle in Heaven, and the author of Hebrews refers to this as the better and more perfect tabernacle not made with human hands.

It is in this tabernacle in the Heavens that Christ is enthroned as King, and mediates as High Priest of a better covenant.

The author of Hebrews tells us: For there is verily an annulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. ~ Hebrews 7: 18-19

The commandment referenced here, which has been annulled, is the command regarding the priesthood by which animal sacrifices were offered. This includes all the details regarding the priests and the animal sacrifices in Ezekiel’s vision, for those priests were to be ordained “according to the Law.”

7. The priesthood of Jesus will never include animal sacrifices.

The author of Hebrews tells us that if Jesus were on earth he would not be a priest because those priests offer gifts and sacrifices according to the Law.

Jesus was made priest by the call of God and not by the Law. Animal sacrifices were offered by those priests who were ordained by the Law, but Christ has obtained a more excellent ministry by which he is the mediator of a better testament.

Christ’s ministry as high priest is through his blood and not the blood of animal sacrifices.

8. Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are.

Interpreting Ezekiel’s temple vision as a millennial temple is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament which reveals that Jesus has an eternal priesthood. The sons of Zadok, were of the tribe of Levi just as the sons of Aaron were, and in Ezekiel’s temple vision they are consecrated in the same manner in which Aaron and his sons were consecrated in Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8. They also wear the same priestly garments instructed for the priests in the law of Moses. The sons of Zadok are required to follow the same regulations which were given to the sons of Aaron.

Again, it is important to emphasize that the writer of Hebrews tells us that this priesthood has been annulled!

Furthermore, the New Testament teaches that believers in Christ Jesus are the holy priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:5, and are called a royal priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:9.

Revelation 1:6, and 5:9 in the KJV says “kings and priests” but a more accurate rendering is a “kingdom of priests.” Those who are redeemed by the blood of Jesus are the kingdom of priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God well pleasing through Jesus Christ. ~1 Peter 2:5-9

Also consider that those who reign with Christ for a thousand years, and are part of the first resurrection are “priests of God.”

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. ~ Revelations 20:4-6

Are these priests who were redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and overcame the beast by their faithfulness to Jesus coming back to offer animal sacrifices?  A thousand times, no!

9. God never desired animal sacrifices. ~ Isaiah 1:11-14; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 40:7-9; Micah 6:7-8; Psalm 51:18-19; Hebrews 4:10-9

Animal sacrifices gave God no pleasure because those sacrifices had no power to take away sins. On the contrary, they were a continual reminder of sin: But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:3-4

The theology of a return to animal sacrifices would constitute a return to that which never truly pleased God and which God never truly desired. God’s desire is found in Jesus for Jesus fulfilled all the will of God by his perfect submission and obedience to God.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ~ Hebrews 10:5-10

Jesus came as it was written of him in the volume of the book. The volume of the book is a reference to the testimony of Jesus within the scriptures. Ezekiel is a part of this witness. The temple which Ezekiel saw was given to provoke the generation of the Exiles to whom Ezekiel was a prophet and priest. It wasn’t something which was predicted some 2500 – 3000 years or more, into the future. The details in Ezekiel’s temple vision serve only as a type and shadow with regards to Christ. 

The theology of animal sacrifices in the millennium does not testify of Jesus. According to the actual details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision, there would be a building again of those things Christ destroyed if the priesthood according to the law with animal sacrifices were reinstated.

10. A temple that would have been but never was. 

Ezekiel was a priest by blood lineage and also a prophet. This temple vision was given to Ezekiel to make the people of Israel ashamed of their sins. ~ Ezekiel 43:10, 11

If Ezekiel’s temple would have been built it would have been a testament that Israel could overcome sin apart from the mediation of Jesus Christ, for it was the temple God would have given them to serve him forever! Israel would have served God, but in their own strength, because in this temple, they would have continued to be separated from the holy presence of God, of which the Jesus blood has now given us access.

And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. In their setting of their threshold by my thresholds, and their post by my posts, and the wall between me and them, they have even defiled my holy name by their abominations that they have committed: wherefore I have consumed them in mine anger. Now let them put away their whoredom, and the carcases of their kings, far from me, and I will dwell in the midst of them for ever. Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquitiesand let them measure the patternAnd if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-12

The temple in Ezekiel’s vision is a temple that would have been but never was because of the sins of Israel and their priests. Had Israel met the conditions which God set forth, the temple described in Ezekiel’s vision would have been forever, and not for a thousand years. ~ Ezekiel 43:7-10

11. God’s presence would be separated from his people. 

In Ezekiel’s temple, the Holy presence of God would have continued to be separated from the people, and particularly from the Levites because of their past sins. According to the New Testament, Jesus has removed the separation between God and his people and we now have unhindered access to God through the blood of Jesus. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22; Ephesians 2:13, 18

12. Why?

Depending on who you listen to, there are different conclusions reached as to “why” animal sacrifices would be offered in the millennium. Some proponents claim they will only be offered as a memorial, even though Ezekiel makes no such claim. In the temple vision given to Ezekiel, the sacrifices are offered for the same purpose for which they were given in the book of Leviticus: for sanctification, reconciliation, purity, and atonement for sins.

If we interpret Ezekiel’s temple vision as a literal temple for the service and worship of the Living God in the millennial, we have a millennium without the cross of Christ, without the blood of Christ, without the intercessory ministry of Jesus our Great High Priest, and without the message of the gospel.

Remember, Jesus is not the priest of God in Ezekiel’s temple vision. The sons of Zadok are. That one statement alone should end all debate on this topic!

One notable teacher on the topic makes the claim that sacrifices will be offered in the millennium to protect God’s glory in the temple. Yet, the New Testament teaches us that God’s glory is fully revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is brightness of God’s glory and the express image of his person. Paul tells us in Colossians that all the fullness of the Godhead is present in Jesus.

Some claim that the sacrifices will be reinstituted as object lessons to teach the people living in the millennium what Christ has done in his death.  This rationale fails miserably when we consider that for 2000 years the gospel of Christ has been sufficient for leading men to salvation. How is it that suddenly when Christ is physically present in all of his glory, we will need animal sacrifices?

One has to wonder if those who teach that Ezekiel’s temple vision is a yet future and a literal temple, actually read the details given in Ezekiel’s temple vision.

13. Physical circumcision would be a necessity for relationship with God. 

Ezekiel’s temple is one in which physical circumcision is required to approach God ~ Ezekiel 44:9.

This is problematic, because Paul tells us: in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love ~ Galatians 5:6.

Paul also says, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28

The Law of Moses, which was physical Israel’s covenant, made a distinction regarding Jew and Greek, bond and free, male and female.

Under ancient Israel’s covenant with God, the sign of the covenant was in the male’s flesh, and not in the woman’s. Women did not have the same status as men under the Law of Moses, and neither did the slaves as the free.

If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a future millennial temple, we will have a millennial in which women do not have the same covenant status as men.

According to the apostle Paul, the old covenant which employed the temple service, the Levitical priesthood, and animal sacrifices, has no relevance now that Christ has come. All distinction regarding covenant status has been annulled. In Christ all the children of God are ONE!

14. The middle wall of partition would be erected.

In Ezekiel’s Temple Vision, the middle wall of partition which separated Jews and Gentiles (the circumcision and the uncircumcision), is still standing.  Yet Paul tells us that Jesus removed this middle wall of partition. If Ezekiel’s temple vision is a literal temple pertaining to the future, we now have a millennium in which Jews and Gentiles are no longer one in Christ, and the middle wall of partition which Christ remove by his death has been erected.

If this is so, then the finished work of Christ will be invalidated in the millennium. Paul says in Galatians, “if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” A millennium with animal sacrifices would be a transgression against the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!

15. Christ and his finished work would be undermined.

If Ezekiel’s temple were truly a literal millennial temple as some claim, we now have a millennium in which (1) the finished work of Christ and the necessity of being born again is undermined. (2) The Levites bare the shame of their sin for a 1000 years, (3) God’s presence is unapproachable by anyone except the sons of Zadok. (4) Being accepted by the Lord will be dependent on the burnt offerings offered by the priests.(5) Being reconciled to God depends on animal sacrifices – thus the altar on which animal sacrifices would be offered becomes the source of reconciliation rather than the cross on which Christ died for our sins. (6) The Prince of Israel would have to offer sin offerings for his own sins.

In God’s kingdom, Jesus is the only prince. Does Jesus have to offer sin offerings for his own sins? Certainly not! The New Testament tells us that Jesus has no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15) and that is why he was able to offer himself without any blemish to God as the sacrifice for our sins. ~ 1 Peter 1:18-20; Hebrews 9:14

16. A rebuilt temple like the one Ezekiel saw would establish Old Covenant worship. 

The first testament, the Law, was dedicated by the blood of sacrificial animals, and the worship described in Ezekiel’s temple vision is based on the ceremonial rites of that testament.

In the New Testament, true worship is worship in spirit and in truth  ~ John 4:23-24.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippersshall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24.

The true worship mentioned by Jesus, which is characteristic of the New Covenant, cannot be found in Ezekiel’s Temple vision. All worship in Ezekiel’s temple vision is associated with the ceremonial regulations prescribed in the Law of Moses. 

New Testament worship, in spirit and in truth, is the kind of worship which God seeks from his people. This worship is made possible only by the New Covenant established in the blood of Jesus, for through the blood of Jesus we have been purified for our sins, and have been given unhindered access to the Living God.

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. ~ Philippians 3:3

17. God’s resting place is not in man made temples.

In scripture, the temple which Solomon built was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian captivity, and Herod’s temple, which was the one standing in the time of Jesus’s earthly ministry, was destroyed in 70 A.D.

Both of these were destroyed because of God’s judgment against the apostasy of the nation. Even though this is revealed in the scriptures, some who claim that Ezekiel’s temple is a future millennial temple, also claim that it will be first inhabited by the anti-Christ, meaning it will be completely apostate before being indwelt by the presence of God. There is no precedent such support theology in the Word of God.

Nowhere in scripture will you find a “rebuilt – man made – temple” of which the Lord Jesus Christ will return to fill with His Glory.

Jesus is the cornerstone which God has laid in Zion. He is the foundation stone of the true house of God which is built not by man, but by the Spirit of the Living God. The true house of God is built with living stones (1 Peter 2:5). These living stones are Jews and Gentiles who obey Jesus Christ and abide in Him.

For through him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the LordIn whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:18-22

The true temple of God of which Jesus is the foundation, and his followers are the building, is out in the open – loud and clear – in the New Testament: John 2:19-20; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16 -17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:12-22; 1 Peter 2:5.

Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation stone, of the true temple of God which is the body of Christ, and the New Testament is embedded with this truth.

All man-made structures (the tabernacle and the temples) in scripture, whether literally or in vision form, were only types and shadows of the true which is in Christ.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that while the first “man made” tabernacle was standing, the Holy Spirit was testifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.  Jesus has entered and consecrated the true holiest of all in the Heavens and we are invited to come boldly into the presence of God by his blood.

The permanent resting place for God’s presence among his people is not found in a man made structure, but in a circumcised heart. Stephen testified of this truth in the book of Acts: Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. ~ Acts 7:48-51
 
The scriptures tells us that after the new heavens and new earth come, new Jerusalem will descend from above and in the New Heavens and New Earth there shall be no temple: a reference to man made structures. 
 
There is no harmony with the New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ and the ideology of another man-made temple with animal sacrifices.
 
Jesus is the foundation stone of the true temple which God is building with living stones (believers in Jesus Christ) and it is this temple that God himself inhabits by his Spirit.

18. Jesus is the final sacrifice for sins. 

As stated at the outset, the sacrifices that Ezekiel references include the sin and trespass offerings and are said to be for atonement. ~ Ezekiel 45:17 see also 42:13 and 45:23.

According to the New Testament, the sacrifice of Jesus is the final offering for sins, and there will never, ever, be another.

This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, THERE IS NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN.  ~ Hebrews 10:16-18

19 THE NEW COVENANT AND THE WITNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

The author of Hebrews tells us that the Holy Ghost is a witness to us regarding the New Covenant, established by the blood of Jesus.

In chapter 8, tells us that Jesus is the mediator of a better testament, established on better promises (v.6). The better testament, or covenant, is the New Covenant God promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

The reason the new covenant was promised is clearly stated: For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah… ~ Hebrews 8:7-8.

The fault that God found with them was that they “continued not” in his covenant, and this was the result of sin. Israel’s covenant with God had no power to end the dominance of sin over his people, therefore, God promised to make a new covenant.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a peopleAnd they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. ~Hebrews 8:10-12

Though Israel was given the Law, the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the atonement sacrifices, God was not pleased because there was no true cleansing from sins,

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. ~ Hebrews 10:1-4

The sacrifices on which the Old Covenant was established, and which were offered for sins, were a continual reminder that sin had not been permanently dealt with, and thus, there was no true reconciliation between God and his people.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing… ~ Hebrews 9:1-8

In contrast to the ineffectiveness of the first covenant, the author of Hebrews expounds on the new. He tells us, the Holy Spirit is a witness to us of the New Covenant, established in the blood of Jesus.

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for allAnd every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. ~ Hebrews 10:9-18

Contextually, the putting away of sins and the once for all references in the book of Hebrews, have to do with the permanency of the finished work of Christ in contrast to the imperfect atonement sacrifices under the Law. Because of Jesus, the New Covenant is superior to the Old.

Though the first covenant was ineffective in taking away sins, God gave it to Israel to prepare the people for something much greater. It would serve as a foreshadowing of Christ, who was yet to come.   

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. ~ Hebrews 9:11-12

At best, the old covenant could only serve as a foreshadowing of the new. T
he first covenant, established with the blood of animal sacrifices, was insufficient for the cleansing of sins. Therefore, it had no power to reconcile man to God.

Through his blood, Jesus has reconciled us to God. As our Great High Priest, he has given us unhindered access into the presence of the Living God, because his blood cleanses us from all sin.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22

This is the covenant, to which the Holy Spirit bears witness to our hearts!

 

THE MISNOMER OF REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY 

The misnomer known as “replacement theology” is actually a condescending label rooted in “a political ideology” and not spiritual truth.

I do not know anyone who truly is a Christian who claims that Jewish people can’t be saved. The problem with the term “replacement theology” is that those who accuse others of it, do not clearly define what they mean by it in view of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If Israel in the flesh maintains its former covenant status with God, then the cross is made of no effect. If Israel in the flesh maintains a covenant relationship with God after rejecting Christ, then the Messiah-ship of Christ is called into question. If Israel maintains a “national covenant identity” in the sight of God which separates them from all other nations, the New Testament is disqualified.

In Christ, the Gentiles “through faith” have become the people of God even as the Jews who believe are the people of God by faith. Furthermore, Jews who reject Christ have become as the Gentiles who reject Christ, for their circumcision has been made uncircumcision, and God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all (who believe in Christ).

Has the Jew been replaced? No! By no means.

It is the covenant that has been replaced. The covenant which God gave to the physical nation of Israel is the Law given through Moses. This covenant gave Israel a national status and it has been made obsolete by a better covenant established on better promises.

The Gentiles have not replaced the Jews, but Christ has replaced the covenant which came through Moses and in Christ God has removed that which separated the Jew from the Gentile. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God and there is no difference between the two!

Yet, many are being taught that allegiance to the secular state of Israel, regardless of their attitude towards Christ, is a prerequisite to being blessed by God and this is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

VESSELS OF WRATH AND VESSELS OF MERCY 

There is a prevailing concept that Israel has been hardened and blinded so that salvation could come to the Gentiles. Yet this is precisely what Paul tells the Romans not to think.

Thou wilt say then, the branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. ~ Romans 11:19

Paul then tells them why the branches (the hardened Jews) were broken off from the covenant.

Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded, but fear. ~  Romans 11:20

Paul does not say that Israel was blinded so that salvation could come to the Gentiles. Instead, Paul says Israel was blinded because of unbelief and because of unbelief they were hardened.

This hardening did not come as a result of their rejection of Jesus; rather, this hardening was the reason why they rejected Jesus, the Messiah.

(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. ~ Romans 11:8 

Paul quoting from Isaiah 29:10 speaks at the time of his writing of Israel’s blindness as being unto this day. Paul then quotes the scriptures again.

And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always.  ~ Romans 11:9-10 

Here Paul quotes Psalm 69:22-23. This is the same chapter of Psalm in which we find the words quoted by Jesus in John 15: “they hated me without a cause” ~ Psalm 69:4; John 15:25).

Israel as a nation has always been, and continues to be, a stiffed necked people. In all of God’s efforts to make them a great nation, they continually rebelled. However, in God’s wisdom, their rebellion against him has resulted in God’s mercy towards all nations.

This is reflected in the parable given by Jesus concerning those who were invited to the wedding feast.

Because of Israel’s persistent rebellion as an nation, Israel no longer holds any special covenant privilege which makes them superior to any other nation. God’s holy people are those in Christ. In Romans 9-11 Paul explains how, in the wisdom of God, God has fulfilled his purpose of bringing salvation to all nations.

God has always had a remnant of believing Jews within ethnic Israel, and he has always had a remnant of Gentiles who sought to serve him as well. Yet only the nation of Israel had a covenant with God, through whom the kingdom of God was revealed.

When Jesus died and rose again everything changed. The kingdom of God was taken from the physical nation of Israel in the flesh, and given to those who follow Jesus, the Messiah.

In their hardness, ethnic Israel is the vessel of wrath fitted for destruction of which Paul makes references in Romans 9. Paul cites Pharaoh as a scriptural example of God’s sovereignty in hardening whom He wills.

In contrast, the remnant of believing Jews along with believing Gentiles, are the vessels of mercy whom God has called according to His grace.

Notice Paul’s words in Romans 9:22-23

What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 

Stop for moment and notice that God called the vessels of mercy from among the Jews. This implies that not all Jews were called as vessels of mercy, even as all Gentiles are not called as vessels of mercy.

Throughout the scriptures we see many accounts when God’s wrath was carried out against Israelites who rebelled against him. John the Baptist warned the Pharisees to flee from the wrath to come and in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul refers to those Jews who oppose the gospel as being under the wrath of God.

Paul continues in Romans 9 saying: As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodom, and been made like unto Gomorrha. ~ Romans 9:25-29

Notice that it was because of the righteous seed within Israel that Israel was not destroyed as a nation before Jesus came, otherwise they would have been like Sodom and Gomorrha. Most of us know what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah when God’s wrath was revealed against them.

Paul continues:

What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. ~ Romans 9: 30-33

Israel after the flesh was hardened and has been hardened since long before the coming of Jesus. They will continue to be hardened until the fullness of the Gentiles come in at which time all Israel (the vessels of mercy called from among the Jews and Gentiles) will be saved.

THE REMNANT 

Romans 11:1-5

1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,

3 Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 

At the end of Romans 10, Paul tells us that national Israel is a disobedient and gainsaying people; and that Israel has rejected the gospel even though the gospel was Israel’s sound and Israel’s words. Paul then begins chapter 11 with the question, “Has God cast away his people, whom He foreknew?”

Paul answers this question with a definitive no, and qualifies his answer by declaring that he, himself, is an Israelite: “For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.” ~ 11:1

Paul then cites the remnant in Elisha’s day who had not bowed their knee to Baal to support his position, saying, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. ~ 11:5

Having already made it abundantly clear that only a remnant of Israelites would be saved (9:27), he continues to be true to this theme. Having expressed his great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for his fellow Israelites according to the flesh (9:1-3). Paul states unequivocally that God’s word has not failed (9:6) because the promises of God are not fulfilled in those who are Israel according the flesh only, but instead, they are fulfilled in those who are Israel according to the promise (9:6-8).

In Romans 10:1 Paul has said, “My heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” He does not say “that they might be restored to national prominence.”

Yet, it is national prominence or national distinction that so many think Paul is referring to when he says, all Israel shall be saved ~ Romans 11:26. Paul’s exposition in Romans 9 -11 has nothing to do with the national restoration of ethnic Israel. Instead, it has everything to do with individual salvation, and that is precisely why his focus is on the remnant that would be saved from among the hardened nation of Israel.

This is why Paul states that as an apostle to the Gentiles, one of his desires is to provoke his fellow Israelites to jealously.

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. ~ Romans 11:13-14

There is nothing in Romans 9-11 that indicates that Paul is speaking of a national restoration of the physical nation of Israel, nor is there any thought that Paul thinks that ALL JEWS will one day be saved.

What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?  ~ Romans 9:22-24

Notice that the vessels of mercy are those who are called from among the Jews and the Gentiles. Does this then mean that God has excluded some while accepting others? Absolutely not!

National Israel, who was hardened, is the vessel of wrath. Yet within Israel there are those individuals who have obtained mercy because of their faith in God. Likewise, the nations which reject God are also vessels of wrath, but within them there are some who obtain mercy because they seek for God.

In Romans 9-11, Paul is not making a case for national Israel. Instead, Paul is showing how that in spite of Israel’s failure, the purpose of God according to election stands. It is in this regard that Paul says “God has not cast away his people?” Yet later, in verse 15, Paul does use the language of casting away (which he uses in 11:1-2) to refer to Israel in unbelief whom God has hardened.

For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? (11:15).

Notice that Paul refers to a “casting away” and a “receiving again” in the same verse. What exaclty is he referring to? Is he talking about a regathering of an ethnic people as a covenant nation once again? No, not by any means.

Consider briefly the words of Jesus from John 15:1-6

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

The casting away of which Paul speaks is a reference to hardened Jews who are cut off from the covenant family of God because the do not believe Jesus is the Messiah.

In Romans 3:3-4, Paul says the following:

3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

A major theme throughout Romans is God’s faithfulness. In Christ Jesus God has accomplished exactly what He has always promised He would do. The promises of God have not failed due to the unbelief of many within Israel, but rather, through Christ, God has fulfilled them just as He always promised he would.  

On the heels of the verdict that Israel has not obeyed the gospel (chapter 10), Paul contends that God has not cast away Israel (with regards to His grace to save) because there is a remnant among them who will believe even though the nation at large has rejected the gospel. Therefore, Jews are not beyond the saving grace of God, and they will be saved if they will turn from their unbelief.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again (Romans 11:20 -23).

ISRAEL AND THE TRUE VINE 

The Psalmist said the following cornering Israel.

Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparest room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea and her branches unto the river. Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. ~ Psalm 80:8-13

In Isaiah, we something very similar.

Now will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.  What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thrones: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of Host is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness,  but behold a cry.  ~ Isaiah 5:1-7

In Matthew 21 Jesus gives a parable about the vineyard.

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, this is the heir; come, let us kill him and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the Lord of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. ~  Matthew 21:33-43

This parable spoken by Jesus is consistent with the description of the vineyard given by both the Psalmist and Isaiah the prophet. If we would have continued reading in Psalm 80, we would have read the following.

Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; And the vineyard which thy right-hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself. It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the Son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. ~ Psalm 80:14-19

Who is this son of Man? It is Jesus, the true vine of Israel.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth, not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abides not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. ~ John 15:1-6

 

 

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